Dr. Russell Wigginton Named VP of Student Life And Dean Of Students

A smiling college administrator dressed in a suit and tie, standing in front of a stained glass window.

Rhodes College President Marjorie Hass has announced the appointment of Dr. Russell Wigginton as Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, effective immediately. In this newly created role, Wigginton will provide leadership and strategic direction to the following areas—student life, residential life, athletics and recreation, career services, counseling and health services, disability services, academic support services, and the Learning Corridor, which is the college’s  partnerships with nearby  neighborhoods. The Student Life division reinforces the campus culture and is integral to Rhodes being a leading national liberal arts college where students make connections between what they learn in the classroom with complementary experiences in leadership, athletics, and community service.

“Dr. Wigginton has served as a highly respected faculty member and senior administrator over his 21-year professional career at Rhodes,” says Rhodes College President Marjorie Hass. “He will bring experience and vision to this new role.  Russ has a gift for drawing people together and the experience and wisdom to lead our student life program.  I look forward to working with him and his team as they create new opportunities for student learning and growth.”

In his previous role as vice president of external programs, Wigginton was responsible for overseeing college grants, foundations and government relations, career services and the center for lifelong learning. Prior to that, he served as vice president for college relations and as special assistant to the president for community relations. He taught in Rhodes’ Department of History from 1996 to 2004. 

“Whatever my role at the college, I have emphasized relationships with students and doing all I can to assist them discover their lifelong passions. As a 1988 alumnus, I also have a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a Rhodes student,” says Wigginton. “Students thrive when the residential part of their lives are healthy. The classroom is the hub for their Rhodes experience, but they spend a lot of time outside of the classroom. The relationships they build informally and formally come together in life changing ways and contribute to their intellectual, cultural, and civic vibrancy as adults.”

“Many of us already know Dr. Wigginton and his willingness to work with students to figure out their ‘next step’ after college,” says Rhodes Student Government President Thomas Mitchell ’18. “I share the excitement of my peers and look forward to his leadership in the lives of our student body.”

Wigginton earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Rhodes in 1988 and a master’s degree and doctorate in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Active in the Memphis community, Wigginton has served on numerous boards including the National Civil Rights Museum, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, Ballet Memphis, Memphis Zoological Society, the New Memphis Institute, Memphis Catholic High School, the UrbanArt Commission, Knowledge Quest, Big Brothers Big Sisters, KIPP Schools, Memphis Literacy Council, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, St. George’s Independent Schools, Memphis PREP Program, ArtsMemphis, and Facing History and Ourselves.