The Ideals of Southwestern
“Here was the chance of a lifetime; a chance to set the standard of an institution for all time; a chance to go forth unhampered by mistakes, architectural and other, and to launch an institution which was as nearly ideal for its purpose as painstaking investigations and careful thought and planning could make it.
“Realizing that the good is ever the enemy of the best, we did not seek merely the good, but the best. There was ever before us the idea of excellence. It was our purpose to launch here an institution which would command the respect and quicken the pride of succeeding generations.”
—Charles E. Diehl, Nov. 27, 1925
Rhodes College aspires to graduate students with a lifelong passion for learning, a compassion for others and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world.
—Adopted by the Rhodes Board of Trustees, Jan. 17, 2003
Greetings from the Alumni Relations Office!
In this issue of Rhodes magazine, we celebrate the first decade of leadership of President William E. Troutt. I think that perhaps Bill Troutt’s greatest contribution is leading the community through the process that resulted in the articulation of the Rhodes Vision. This vision guides our work and sets direction for our efforts. It is one of the two items appearing above that serves to frame my remarks for this column.
The second item above is lifted from comments made by Charles Diehl on the occasion of Southwestern relocating from Clarksville to Memphis in 1925.
Between the guidance and direction found in these two documents, along with the admonition that President Troutt has given to staff members that we 1) place students first in services we provide 2) use our best judgment in making decisions and 3) take initiative to do things that will make sense in serving constituents, most of what we need to function as an office serving alumni and others is provided. Two remaining requirements are that we listen and we accept the willingness of alumni to help their alma mater.
As we look back at the last 10 years, one of the gains we can see is the emergence of an alumni program, built on the foundation of earlier efforts in the Alumni Relations Office, that has incorporated the willingness of alumni to lead. A supportive and proactive Alumni Association Executive Board over this time has been a tremendous asset.
The development of Rhodes Chapters had its origins in a conversation in which an alumnus suggested, “I would like for us to try a steering group to guide programs in Mobile and on the Coast,” followed closely by a member of the Alumni Board saying, “I want us to try a regional caucus in Atlanta.” Those initiatives led us to the point of our now having 16 chapters. Rhodes Chapters are a tribute to President Troutt’s encouragement that we find ways to serve our students and other community members. Career networking programming, which escalated dramatically in the last academic year, serves as another illustration of this support.
Both staff and volunteer leaders realize that we have the chance of a lifetime in building a meaningful alumni program that will meet the needs of students and alumni alike. Efforts are guided with the understanding that we can’t be content with being merely “good” or “decent,” as we want to build a model that will be productive over time. Thus, we must have before us the idea of excellence in our efforts. As we continue this wonderful partnership, we see that a difference is being made as we graduate students with a passion for learning, a compassion for others and the spirit to lead.
Thanks for your support of the students and your service to the college. See you at Homecoming.