About Us

Dr. Iris A. Pearce

Dr. Iris Annette Pearce attended Rhodes College in the 1940s, when it was named Southwestern at Memphis, before graduating from Vanderbilt University. During World War II, she joined the women’s corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES). As a medical student, she followed a long-established path in her family, where four generations of physicians preceded her. Yet she was also breaking new ground as a woman: she was one of only two female students in her University of Tennessee class; she served as the first female internal medicine resident at John Gaston Hospital (The Med); and she eventually became the director of the City of Memphis Hospitals while serving as a professor at the University of Tennessee. In recognition of her significant contributions to the health of the community, in 1981 she was named the winner of the L. M. Graves Memorial Health Award. When she died in 2005, Dr. Pearce left a generous bequest to Rhodes to share her lifelong enthusiasm for Shakespeare with future generations.

The late professor of Shakespeare studies at Rhodes, Dr. Cynthia Marshall, played an instrumental role in establishing preliminary planning for this bequest. A revered teacher and scholar, Dr. Marshall won both of Rhodes College′s highest faculty honors, the Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Clarence Day Award for Research and Creative Activity. Dr. Marshall was the first of only five Rhodes professors to attain both distinctions. Dr. Marshall was the author of Last Things and Last Plays: Shakespearean Eschatology (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991) and The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), and editor of As You Like It for the "Shakespeare in Production" series (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The Pearce Shakespeare Endowment enriches a vibrant intellectual community at Rhodes College. Not only did I hear lectures by leading scholars of the early modern world; speakers met with our seminars, sharing how their work intersected with ours. The Pearce Endowment also supports film screenings and live performances, giving students the chance to engage with creative artists both in and out of the classroom. In short, it provides premier resources to a liberal arts college. I owe a great deal to the Pearce Endowment! -- Will Roudabush '15