MBJ: Rhodes College names first female president
After an eight-month search, Rhodes College has named “a force of nature” as the successor for president William E. Troutt.
Following an extensive search process and a unanimous vote by the Rhodes College Board of Trustees, Marjorie Hass has been named the 20th president of Rhodes College.
Hass, who is currently the president of Austin College and the chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, will be the first woman to lead Rhodes in its 168-year history.
Hass was drawn to Rhodes for its reputation, its ability to serve as a national model and the opportunity for her and her family to be part of a city that is both “historic and contemporary.”
Hass said her first charge as president is to “shut up and listen.”
Hass has led Austin College in Sherman, Texas, since 2009. Though she inherited a college with several challenges — including financial hardships — Hass stabilized the budget, restructed the debt and created new revenue streams during her eight years there.
In addition, Austin College’s endowment increased by 35 percent, enabling the school to build two new residence halls and a science building. The campus also now runs 100 percent on wind power.
“What we discovered about Hass that you can’t just by reading her [curriculum vitae] is that she’s a smart, warm, energetic, optimistic and very engaging person,” said Cary Fowler, one of the co-chairs of the school’s presidential search committee. “Our search firm identified her as ‘a force of nature.’”
Hass, 51, earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy at the University of Illinois, Urbana‐Champaign. Her husband, Lawrence Hass, is a professor of humanities at Austin College. The couple has two children.
Hass and her family will arrive in Memphis next summer; she will resume her responsibilities as president on July 1, 2017, following Troutt’s retirement.