Darrell Cobbins ’97

       If you ask Darrell Cobbins ’97 what impact Rhodes had in helping him become the successful businessman he is today, he immediately points to his major, Anthropology and Sociology. He specifically mentions Dr. Susan Kus, chair of the Anthropology and Sociology Department, as a big influence. He recalls her telling students that, “Anthropology is about studying what it means to be human. We all make sense of the world in different ways.”

Clearly, this is a lesson well learned for Cobbins, who opened Universal Commercial LLC, a commercial real estate company, in 2007. “Studying different cultures and how people exist has allowed me to have an open mind, and it has helped me to engage and interact well in both the business and civic world,” says Cobbins. “It has really allowed me to connect with all different kinds of people.

His ”connections” are many, as he has quickly established a name for himself in the city of Memphis. Cobbins is chairman of the board at Memphis Light, Gas & Water, the youngest person ever to hold that position. In addition, he is a member of the boards of both the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. He co-chaired memphis Mayor AC Wharton’s campaign and served as a member of his transition team after the election.

It is hardly surprising that Cobbins has found a way to be active in the Memphis community. At Rhodes he was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Black Student Association, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and ARO, the Admissions Representative Organization, now known as the Rhodes College Diplomats. He also played football and served as a Resident Adviser for two years. Most recently, he completed a term on the Alumni Association’s Executive Board.

Cobbins is especially proud of his work with MPACT Memphis, a nonprofit organization that aims to get young, talented professionals more involved in the Memphis community through volunteer work and leadership positions. His leadership has been so widely recognized, in fact, that in 2007 he was interviewed for a national study of black leaders by the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

It appears that Cobbins knows not only what it means to be human but what it means to interact with other humans to achieve maximum success.


By: Alice C. Wombwell ’10