Campus News


Rhodes Named a College of Distinction

Rhodes has added another distinction to its list of honors with its inclusion in a new college guidebook called Colleges of Distinction. High school counselors from across the nation made the final decision about the various colleges chosen for the guidebook.

Rhodes is one of about 160 U.S. colleges that will be profiled in the inaugural edition in Spring 2004. Colleges of Distinction is published by Student Horizons Inc. (Bethesda, MD) with the goal of providing students, counselors and parents information about schools that distinguish themselves in the following four areas:

  •  Engaged students, signifying that a college attracts students who have a healthy range of academic and non-academic interests and encourages innovative hands-on learning techniques that range from fieldwork and internships abroad to service learning and advanced research at home
  • Great teaching, showing that a college encourages an atmosphere of exciting thought and action led by professors who care about helping students learn to think for themselves
  •  Vibrant community, indicating that a college provides an interesting and exciting residential community and offers many opportunities for cocurricular involvement and leadership development 
  • Successful outcomes, connoting that a college has an excellent placement record for employment and advanced study and that its graduates are equipped to find better solutions in the workplace and in the world

“These areas align with the Rhodes Vision, and we are honored to be recognized for our commitment to excellence,” said Rhodes President William E. Troutt.

According to Dr. Ruth McClelland Nugent, Colleges of Distinction editor, a consortium of parents, educators and counselors developed the four distinctions. In the guidebook, each college will have an introductory page with facts about the school, a two-page critique based on interviews from campus visits and a final page of quotes from high school counselors who are familiar with the school.
For more information about Colleges of Distinction, visit

College Receives $500,000 Grant to Improve Science Education in Memphis City Schools

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced Dec. 3 that Rhodes will receive a $500,000 grant from the Department of Education to enhance science education and academic performance in Memphis City Schools. Rhodes will partner with Snowden School (K-9), Cypress Middle School, Central High School, the Memphis Zoo and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to create the Rhodes Learning Corridor.

“The Rhodes Learning Corridor is a multifaceted undertaking that will help to spark students’ interest in science and inspire more young people to pursue careers in science,” said Rhodes President William E. Troutt. The federal grant will be used to initiate Phase One in the overall program envisioned for the Learning Corridor.

In partnership with St. Jude and the Memphis Zoo, Rhodes faculty and staff will design programs that benefit Rhodes undergraduates as well as students in neighborhood schools. For example, the program will create opportunities for high school students to work on a research team with college students. Students in college biology classes can serve as mentors to those in high school biology classes and middle school science classes.

“This program will be a significant expansion of programs currently in existence,” said Rhodes dean of academic affairs Bob Llewellyn. “We already have 100 students who serve as tutors and mentors in neighborhood schools every week. We already have geology classes working with classes at Cypress Middle School to help them understand the significance of ground water pollution. This funding will help us expand the reach of these programs and start new ones.”

“We understand our responsibilities as citizens of Memphis and, more particularly, of this neighborhood, and we are delighted to be able to make a contribution to stability in this vital area of the city,” said Troutt. “It is an additional satisfaction that at the same time we will contribute to raising young people’s aspirations and abilities in scientific disciplines.”

Two Professors Selected for Editorships

Professors Jay White and Tim Sharp each has been named to prestigious editorships.

White, who is chair of the Department of Physics and the College’s Crain Professor of Physics, will edit Mercury, the membership magazine of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). Founded in 1889 and with members in more than 70 countries, ASP is the world’s largest and one of the oldest general astronomy organizations. Membership includes both scientists and non-scientists — from Nobel laureates to middle school teachers.

Mercury is a full-color, bimonthly publication that highlights cutting-edge science, engaging historical tales and innovative instruction.

With White serving as editor, Rhodes also becomes the new home to Mercury’s editorial office.

“That Rhodes students will be able to participate in the production of the magazine is especially important to me,” said White. “I plan on involving them as editorial assistants and occasional writers.

White served as Mercury editor once before, from 1998-2001. His new editorial duties began Oct. 15, 2003. For more information about Mercury magazine and on the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, visit

Tim Sharp, who is chair of the Department of Music, will be the primary editor for Church Street Music, a publishing group in Nashville, TN, specializing in traditional sacred and classical choral music. He also will be the consulting editor for Genevox Music Group which is owned by Lifeway and is the parent company of Church Street Music.

Established in the mid-1990s, Church Street Music also publishes educational materials and books on hymnology, choral methods and instrumental methods as well as other resources for church music education. Church Street Music publications are sold by traditional print music stores and are available at local music stores. They also are available through the firm’s national distribution center in Nashville and through its Web site.

Sharp, who has already assumed duties, said, “I am editing and writing music now, gathering new pieces for future publication and consulting with the sales and marketing departments in Nashville. I will move into the recording phase of the duties later next year.”

In addition, Sharp has sponsored three focus groups in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia to help chart the course for future publications. His other duties include finding composers who can respond to his publication ideas, consulting with the parent company about the sales and marketing of the publications and occasionally contributing his own compositions for publication.

Sharp, who previously served on Church Street Music’s advisory board for three years, said, “I had written music and arranged music for the parent company for several years. Part of his agreement with Church Street Music is to include Rhodes students in projects.
For more information about Church Street Music and its parent companies, visit

Matthews, Chalmers Take New Responsibilities

Roberta Bartow Matthews has been named director of capital giving at Rhodes. Known to her friends as Sue, she has served as director of planned giving at Rhodes for the past seven years.

In her new position, Matthews will be responsible for the implementation and development of all capital projects, including endowment, as well as building and construction campaigns. She also remains responsible for the overall management of the college’s comprehensive planned giving program.

Dionne Chalmers is the new media relations manager. Reporting to the director of communications, Chalmers is responsible for communicating college news to the local and regional media and assisting with communications to the national media. She also serves as editor of the Rhodes internal newsletter, Inside Rhodes.

Before joining Rhodes, Chalmers held a similar position in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at the University of Memphis where she served for more than 11 years.

Rhodes Welcomes NOVA

 The PBS science program NOVA taped an interview with Dr. Risher Watts of Hattiesburg, MS, at Rhodes in October. The upcoming program focuses on organic chemist Percy Julian (1899-1975), for whom Watts worked at The Julian Laboratories Inc. in Franklin Park, IL, before going on to medical school.

Born in Birmingham, Julian, the grandson of a slave, received his education at DePauw, Harvard and the University of Vienna. He developed many medicines and products from soybean derivatives including synthetic cortisone, progesterone and testosterone.

Hernandez Fund Established

Francisco Javier Hernandez, a carpenter who built the plywood forms that created the arches on the college’s new Paul Barret Jr. Library, died in a tragic accident at the construction site Jan. 12. Hernandez, 46, who was from Mexico, leaves a wife, Maria Josefina Hernandez, and five children.

Rhodes students, faculty and staff have established an account for donations to be disbursed to Mrs. Hernandez. Contributions can be sent to the Bursar’s Office. Checks should be made payable to Rhodes College with “Hernandez Family Fund” on the memo line.

To Tree or Not To Tree

Rhodes, along with the Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association, Memphis Light, Gas & Water, Memphis City Beautiful Commission and the Sierra Club sponsored a free expo, “To Tree or Not To Tree,” in early November to offer advice on replacing trees lost after Memphis’ July windstorm. The event, which was held at the Memphis Board of Education, featured workshops, demonstrations, advice on where to purchase trees and planting demonstrations.

Attending from Rhodes were Mike Kirby, associate professor of political science; Marci Hendrix of Information Services, who is doing an internship with Prof. Kirby; Judith Rutschman, associate director of Rhodes Information Technology Services and past president and current member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club; Elizabeth Gates, Rhodes archivist and special collections librarian; Horst Dinkelacker, professor of German; Steven Brewer, assistant professor of biology; and community development scholars Rob Dalton ’04, Erin Fleischer ’04 and Roslyn Valentine ’06.

Rhodes’ participation was made possible through an urban forest grant it received from the Associated Colleges of the South.

Reflecting on a Life of Service

L. Palmer Brown ’30 of Memphis, a life trustee and benefactor of the college and an ardent supporter of numerous community endeavors, died Nov. 27, 2003. He was 93.

President emeritus of L.P. Brown Co. and L.P. Brown Enterprises, which sold burlap bagging and steel ties for cotton bales, Brown attended Rhodes and graduated cum laude from Washington and Lee University. He was named to the executive committee of the Rhodes Board of Trustees in 1956, and to the full board in 1967. He became a life trustee and received the Rhodes Distinguished Service Medal in 1982, and an honorary doctorate in 1987.

The recipient of numerous community honors and awards, Brown was chairman emeritus of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York, and in 1986 received the society’s prestigious Hope Award.

“He will be remembered here for his many contributions to the college, but also for the way he lifted our spirits with his very positive and affirming outlook on life,” said Rhodes President William E. Troutt. “We at Rhodes are well aware of his longtime service on the Board of Trustees. He was one of the first members of the Diehl Society, and his name can be found in the Benefactors’ Circle and on countless places throughout the campus. In so many ways, his good life was the embodiment of our vision for Rhodes.”

The widower of Octavia Evans and former husband of Sally Pidgeon, he leaves a daughter, Axson B. Morgan, a sister, Kathryn B. Butler and four grandchildren.

College Remembers Dr. E. Llewellyn Queener

Dr. E. Llewellyn Queener, professor of psychology at Rhodes from 1950-87, died Nov. 28, 2003. He was 84.

The founder and past chair of the Rhodes Department of Psychology, Dr. Queener was born in Maryville, TN, in 1919. He held his A.B. degree from the University of Tennessee and B.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University.

“Rhodes College was the domain within which Dr. Queener lived and conducted nearly all of his professional life,” said Dean of the College Robert Llewellyn. “He was by training a social psychologist; but he was also a theologian, a philosopher and a practitioner of the humanities. In 1986 Llew — as he was known to all — received the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching. His portrait was added to the Rhodes Distinguished Faculty Portrait Series in 1999, a recognition conveyed by action of the alumni of the college. Dr. Queener retired in 1987, though for many more years his was a familiar face on campus, especially in the Burrow Library where he continued to work on his passionate interest in the psychology of religion.”

Dr. Queener leaves his wife, Dr. Lea Gibbs Queener, a retired speech and drama professor, a son, a stepdaughter, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.