Inaugural Events Set for This Weekend

image of Rhodes College President Jennifer Collins

Jennifer M. Collins will be formally installed as the 21st president of Rhodes College on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Bryan Campus Life Center on campus. The Rhodes community, alumni, invited guests and dignitaries, and the media are welcome to attend the inauguration ceremony.

Traditionally, a college or university holds the inauguration of a president months after the individual takes office. The inauguration at Rhodes coincides with the college’s 175th Anniversary Celebration, and on the evening of Oct. 21, the Hernando de Soto Bridge is scheduled to be lit red for Rhodes in recognition of the college’s 175 years and its 21st president.

image of Hernando de Soto Bridge
Hernando de Soto Bridge

Collins began her tenure as the 21st president of Rhodes College on July 1, 2022.  Previously, she had been the Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law at Southern Methodist University. Her career outside of academia includes working in a private practice in Washington, D.C., and as an attorney-adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. She was Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002.

Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University, where she also served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review.

Inaugural weekend events begin on Friday, Oct. 20, with a campus-wide celebratory lunch featuring Memphis-inspired dishes in the Catherine Burrow Refectory from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

image of a program cover

The Inaugural Talks, which will showcase the richness and variety of faculty scholarship at Rhodes, will be held from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Blount Auditorium of Buckman Hall. Co-sponsored by the college’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the event includes the following presentations: “Lit Matters;”  “Study Abroad:  It’s Not Just for Students;” “Collaborating with Plants, AI, and Machines to Make Art;” “Breaking Barriers:  A Journey into Novel Antibiotic Development;” “Research, Action, and Rhodes:  Liberal Arts on the Streets of Memphis;” and  “The Impact of Emotional Labor on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Professionals, and What Organizations Can Do About It.”  A festive reception will follow in the lobby of Buckman Hall.


On Saturday, Oct. 21, check-in for delegates and program participants of the inauguration ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m., and the processional begins at 9:30 a.m. The Inauguration Brunch will follow the ceremony in the McCallum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center.