President′s Message: Celebrating the Paul Barret, Jr. Library

By President William E. Troutt


Beginning my seventh fall at Rhodes, I continue to feel so fortunate. My travels this summer allowed me to further reflect on this remarkable community.

It began with a wonderful visit to British Studies at Oxford, for a close-up look at the long-standing program with St. John’s College brought to new levels of excellence by Professor Michael Leslie. What a magnificent experience this is for our students!

While there, I walked over to Trinity College to pay a call on Rhodes Scholar Michael Lamb. I had heard reports from several Oxford fellows that he is doing well, and I was eager to hear his impressions. When I mentioned his name to the porter at the Trinity gatehouse, the gentleman’s face lit up, and he went to considerable trouble to put us in contact. It was gratifying to see that our Michael is held in high esteem at Oxford, just as he was at Rhodes.

Carole and I had the immense good fortune to depart from England just ahead of the British Airways work stoppage that stranded so many international travelers. And then to come home to a fully functioning Paul Barret, Jr. Library — life just doesn’t get better than this.

It is such a pleasure to walk through the beautiful building and envision what it will mean to generations of students. Thinking back to my first year at Rhodes, which I sometimes refer to as the Year of Listening, I remember the impressions gained then.

I was struck from the beginning by the goodness of this place and its people; how this college for so many years has helped students connect with one another and with a remarkably gifted faculty in life-changing ways. This wonderful new facility, with its abundance of collaborative spaces, will dial up these qualities several notches. And its technological marvels place the resources of the entire world at our students’ fingertips.

Walking outside, I see the lush green spaces that replaced unsightly asphalt. The careful planning that went into choosing a site for the new building is paying off. The campus has truly been recentered.

And finally, there was the occasion of conducting the first tour for the trustees of the Paul Barret, Jr. Trust, my dear friends, John Douglas ’48 and Graves Leggett. Hearing them pronounce that it exceeded their expectations gave me immense satisfaction. It brings me tremendous pride and great joy to know that the journey of two devoted pilgrims, in executing the last wishes of their beloved friend Paul Barret, Jr., accomplished such stunning results.

I am experiencing the privilege of a lifetime in so many dimensions and I am very thankful to all of you for your devotion to this extraordinary place.