A Message From the President: The Campaign for Rhodes

By Dr. William E. Troutt

One of the first named scholarships created when our college arrived in Memphis was the Israel H. Peres Scholarship for Shelby County students. Peres was the Chancery Court judge from 1917–1925 and the son of the city’s first rabbi. A group of prominent Memphians contributed $25,000 to establish two or more four-year scholarships in his name. The first recipient was Abe Fortas ’30, who went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

This spirit of giving to enable outstanding students to attend our college can be traced back to the office of President Charles Diehl and his infamous “oil can,” where donations were placed by those visiting our campus. Initially using his own funds, Dr. Diehl opened a special bank account for faculty and student emergencies. During the depression, the “oil can fund” ensured that students with financial difficulties remained to receive their Southwestern degree.

These wonderful stories of our rich heritage have only grown over the past nine decades. Over the last 15 years, it has been inspiring for me to hear so many alumni testimonies about how a scholarship made a difference in their ability to come to Rhodes. In fact, it motivated Carole and me to establish our own endowed scholarship at Rhodes for middle-income students. Our story “Standing on Shoulders” in this issue of Rhodes magazine highlights some of the other recent scholarships that help Rhodes attract truly remarkable students. The five students featured on our alternate covers for this issue are outstanding examples of scholarship investments. We could have printed as many covers as we have students!

As one of three targeted areas of our campaign, student aid plays an ever-increasing role in our ability to recruit and retain outstanding students. Opportunities abound to help more students receive a truly life-changing education. My thanks to all of you who have established scholarships and supported our students through financial aid.