Enduring Strengths

By President William E. Troutt


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At President and Mrs. Troutt′s reception for Rhodes Student Associates, Rachel Stinson ′08 and Hai-Ching Chang
′09 admire Boomer, the Troutts′ Old English sheepdog, while Elizabeth Welch ′09, Margie Smith ′09 and President Troutt look on.

With our Campaign for Rhodes now in full swing, I have the privilege every week of talking with alumni/ae, parents and other faithful friends of our college about what matters most at Rhodes. Our conversations always focus on the student experience here and what makes it so distinctive and life-changing. In talking with alumni/ae, the conversation quickly turns to their experiences and what continues to matter most to them from their student days here.

What I inevitably hear early in our conversation is how the personal attention they received from a faculty mentor changed their lives. While they pay tribute to professors such as A.P. Kelso, Laurence Kinney, Mark McMahon, Cynthia Marshall and a host of others, the basic story remains unchanged: A dedicated professor took the interest and the time to provide direction, encouragement and sometimes, an extra dose of tough love, to be sure students discovered their gifts and found their way.

These are the stories I began to hear nine years ago when I arrived at Rhodes—how students connect with faculty here in life-changing ways. It is one of the college’s enduring strengths that underlies our Vision for Rhodes and now our Campaign for Rhodes.

This is our first campaign that focuses almost exclusively on supporting and connecting students, faculty and staff. It proposes that we build on our historic strengths in new and exciting ways. A chief component of the campaign is to increase our endowment to provide financial aid for more students. That financial aid will take the form of fellowships rather than traditional scholarships.

A fellowship at Rhodes is an opportunity for a student to receive extraordinary faculty mentoring through classroom learning combined with research, internships, study abroad, community service and creative activity. Fellowship opportunities for students will further enrich the distinctive academic experience we provide at Rhodes.

I am very encouraged by how alumni/ae, parents and friends are responding to this opportunity to invest in Rhodes and ensure we continue to have this interchange between the very best students and the very best faculty.

You read earlier how our chair Spence Wilson has set an inspiring example in his support of faculty and students here. I continue to be encouraged by everyone’s response so that their stories of Rhodes’ enduring strengths can be told for generations to come.



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