Deborah Craddock ’80 Becomes First Woman to Chair Rhodes College’s Board of Trustees

image of Deborah Craddock on Rhodes College campus

Rhodes College is pleased to announce that Deborah Craddock has been elected chair of the Board of Trustees following the completion of Cary Fowler’s tenure. Craddock, who will be the first woman to serve in the position, will take office July 1.

“I have valued my time on the Rhodes Board of Trustees and have been so fortunate to serve under and learn from the leadership of previous chairs Spence Wilson, Bill Michaelcheck, and Cary Fowler,” says Craddock. “I am truly honored to have been elected as the next chair and look forward to navigating the opportunities that lie ahead for the college. Together with the rest of the board, we will continue to fulfill the Rhodes vision of graduating individuals with a lifelong passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action.”

Craddock, who graduated from Rhodes in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, is a principal at Southeastern Asset Management Inc. She served as vice-chair of the Board of Trustees 2017-2020 and over the years has continuously served both her alma mater and the Memphis community. 

Craddock began her service to the college as a member of the Alumni Executive Board, the President’s Council, and the Margaret Hyde Council. She joined the Rhodes College Board of Trustees in 2001, where she has chaired the Student Life, Investment, and Finance committees. 

A generous leader, she has served as a member of the National Campaign Executive Committee and as president of the Charles E. Diehl Society. She and her husband, Bob, are Fellows of the Charles E. Diehl Society and members of the Benefactor’s Circle. They are the parents of Alice (Rhodes Class of 2012), Pierce, and Reed. She is the 2017 recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, presented to individuals who have given selflessly to the college and others. 

In addition, Craddock has served on the search committees for the 20th and 21st presidents of Rhodes College.

“I am so privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside our new President Jennifer Collins, an accomplished leader in higher education, as we further develop and implement our strategic plan to prepare Rhodes for the next decade,” says Craddock.  “Her experience with supporting faculty, staff, students, and alumni as well as managing budgets and fund-raising during her tenure as dean of the law school at Southern Methodist University will be invaluable to Rhodes.”

Craddock has held leadership roles in several Memphis organizations, including serving on the board of directors at MIFA,  the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and Ballet Memphis. She holds the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst and is a former member of the National Organization for Investment Professionals.  She is a past vestry member and senior warden of Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. 

Fowler, who is a member of the Rhodes Class of 1971, has served on the Board of Trustees since 2013. He was vice-chair 2015-2017 and began his tenure as chair in 2017. Fowler was executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust from 2005 through 2012. He also has served as a visiting scholar at Stanford University and professor and director of research at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. 
“Deborah knows the college from top to bottom. As chair, I quickly learned to depend on her wise counsel, and her hard work and impeccable professionalism,” says Fowler. “Deborah shares our values completely and has long been an effective ambassador for Rhodes and the liberal arts. She’s a leader everyone trusts, respects and likes, and she’ll make a wonderful partner for our incoming president, Jennifer Collins.”