Rhodes College celebrates 175th anniversary

Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Rhodes College is celebrating 175 years of higher learning and planning a host of activities in honor of the milestone.

History professor Dr. Tim Huebner is co-chair for the committee organizing events to celebrate Rhodes’ incredible anniversary.

“What we’re doing with the special events is focusing on those things that, of course, Rhodes College has been known for over the years. Our academic excellence, the outstanding liberal education that we offer to students, but also the ties that we have to Memphis and especially our ethic of service,” Huebner explained, adding that as part of the celebration, the school is working with the Hospitality Hub that helps people transition our of homeless and invites everyone, on campus and off, to get involved by dropping off toiletry items.

The recent inauguration of the school’s 21st president, Dr. Jennifer Collin, is among the list of planned activities, as well as lectures by New York Times columnist David Brooks and the two Washington Post journalists who authored the book His Name Is George Floyd. There are also special academic programs and giveaways.

Dr. Collins, whose resume includes stints at various colleges across the country, believes Rhodes is unique.

Rhodes College
Rhodes College(Action News 5)

“We just attract incredibly interesting, passionate, curious, kind people who both want to study here and teach and mentor our students and I just never fail to be impressed by our students and their passion for making a difference in the world and their heart for service. We’re one of the most community service-minded colleges in the country and that’s an honor that we are proud of,” she explained.

Native Memphian and Rhodes alum Dr. Sherry Turner was one of a handful of Black and first-generation students when she attended class at Rhodes. Now, after returning to the campus after stints of her own at various colleges throughout the country, returns as the college’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

She said she’s having a “Sankofa moment,” an Akan tradition in Ghana, which basically means “it is not taboo to go back for what you forgot (or left behind.)

”I’m very pleased to be back here because I’m in a role now that allows me to ensure that the environment is one that really is committed to the success of every student at Rhodes,” she said.

Student Body President and Senior Claire Kiernan loves the small community of 2,000 students, as well as the academic environment, small class size and faculty mentorship that allowed her dreams to grow and blossom.

“I tell people that’s another thing that I love about Rhodes is that you don’t even know what your dream can be when you get here, but this college gives you the opportunity to figure out what your dream can be. And so now here I am a senior--as a first year I never ever would have expected that this is my dream, but it is and I get to live it which is so cool,” she chuckled.

And she is proud to be a part of Rhodes College as it celebrates nearly 200 years of molding young minds while connecting their experiences in the classroom to the real world.

Rhodes College is also the subject of this week’s 5 Star Story on Action News 5, which takes you on a cross-campus journey while sharing the stories that helped shape its legacy.

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