The Inauguration of President Jennifer M. Collins

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The inauguration ceremony for President Jennifer M. Collins was held on October 21, 2023. The ceremony was presided over by Board of Trustees Chair Deborah Legg Craddock ’80, P’12 in the Bryan Campus Life Center, where she greeted guests that included representatives of organizations and institutions of higher learning from Memphis and around the country.

Messages of welcome to President Collins were extended from faculty, staff, students, the parent community, alumni, and City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and U.S. Representative Steve Cohen. Dr. Michael Lamb ’04, a Rhodes Scholar (Oxford) recipient who is now the executive director of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forrest University—where President Collins taught for 12 years, before joining Southern Methodist University as the Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law—spoke to the values instilled by Rhodes College. 

Inauguration was followed by brunch and a student-sponsored Inaugural Ball to welcome President Collins.

Inaugural Weekend was the centerpiece of the college's 175th Anniversary celebrations, which included a series of community-wide special events, opportunities to learn about the college’s history, and a kick-off luncheon, complete with food trucks and t-shirts. Other notable events included a conversation with New York Times columnist David Brooks, a panel at Homecoming celebrating the college’s legacy of creative excellence (featuring alumni poets and English professors), and the annual Rhodes Reads event, featuring the authors of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book His Name is George Floyd.

a woman in academic robes flanked by a man and woman
Special guests included Rhodes' 10th president, William E. Troutt, and 20th president, Marjorie Hass.
a woman in academic robes flanked by a male and female, both in academic robs
President Collins with Professor Terry Hill, bearer of the Rhodes Mace (on left) and Professor Leslie Petty, recipient of the 2022 Jameson M. Jones Award.
a woman surrounded by dancers
The student-sponsored Inaugural Ball celebrated the inauguration of President Collins.