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Rhodes College names SMU law dean as new president

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 12:28 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Rhodes College has picked its 21st president.

Jennifer Collins will be coming to Memphis from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Texas.

Collins stood before students and faculty Monday, thanking them for the opportunity.

“I cannot wait to get to know all of you and start working alongside you,” she said.

Collins served as the dean and professor of law at SMU. Her past law experience is something she plans to bring to her new position.

“As I always like to say, there’s no greater preparation for telling a good story than trying to get 12 citizens who could not figure out how to get out of jury duty to take very seriously the obligation that they have to try to do justice and reach the right result,” said Collins.

Rhodes College joins a list of higher education intuitions in Memphis that have announced new presidents. The Liberal Arts College located in Midtown gained attention in 2020 when graduate Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court. Hundreds of alumni came out in opposition to her nomination, claiming her former legal opinions marginalized the LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities.

Former President Marjorie Hass came out in support of Barrett’s nomination.

Collins says she doesn’t plan to shy away from discussing social issues.

“I think we’re at a critical inflection point in terms of the kind of country we want to be and how we advocate for social justice,” said Collins. “And I think that a liberal arts college are some of the best places to have those conversations.”

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