President Troutt to Retire in 2017

an older male wearing a red bow tie and smiling in the middle of the library
President William Troutt

On April 14, Rhodes College President William E. Troutt announced his intention to retire in June 2017, after 18 years as president of the college.

June 2017 represents two important milestones for Dr. Troutt, who is one of the country’s longest-serving college presidents – he will celebrate his 68th birthday and his 35th year of service as a college president. June of next year also marks the completion of several important initiatives funded by the college’s $314 million Campaign for Rhodes, including the opening of the new Robertson Hall science facility.

During the next academic year, Dr. Troutt will continue to be fully engaged and focused on supporting the vision and goals of Rhodes.

“I graduated from college with the hope of becoming a college president,” Dr. Troutt says. “Next year will be 35 years! I often counsel with students about discovering their strengths, finding their passions, and devoting their lives to what they love. I am so blessed that this is my life story. Serving as president of Rhodes has been, and will continue to be, the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“By every measure, Rhodes has become a stronger college under President Troutt’s leadership,” says William Michaelcheck, chairman of the Rhodes Board of Trustees. “Our academic offerings have been reshaped and enriched. Strategic partnerships with great Memphis institutions have created one-of-a-kind research, service, and internships opportunities for our students. And today, we have the largest, most academically talented and diverse student body in our history.”

Mr. Michaelcheck will appoint a Presidential Search Committee to find the college’s next leader. The committee will include faculty, staff, and student representation. Vice Chairman Dr. Carey Fowler will serve as co-chair. The committee will select a firm to assist with the national search.

Dr. William E. Troutt Bio

Now in his second decade at Rhodes and his fourth as a college president, Dr. William E. Troutt is one of only three college presidents in America currently serving in that capacity for more than 30 years. A nationally recognized leader in education, he has worked with key stakeholders to establish strategic aspirations for Rhodes. As a result, Rhodes has strengthened its focus on excellence in the classroom and beyond through student research, internships, study-abroad, service, and stronger connections with the Memphis community. During his tenure, Rhodes was twice named the "Most Service-Oriented College in America" by Newsweek.

A new college curriculum, the establishment of endowed faculty chairs and support, key partnerships to enhance student learning, the move from scholarships to fellowships, and a nationally recognized student work program are a few of the outcomes of the Rhodes Vision. Additionally, he has worked closely with trustees to implement a new trustee governance structure that serves as a national model.

In 2005 President Troutt secured a $35 million gift, the largest in the college’s history, to build the Paul Barret, Jr. Library. Since then he has overseen a campus master plan, placing the library at the heart of the growing residential campus. He continues to secure resources in an ongoing effort to bring ambitious academic, residential, and athletic space plans to fruition.

In 2012, he led the establishment of the Memphis Center at Rhodes to focus on the human experience of Memphis and the Mid-South region.

In 2015, he oversaw the completion of a $314 million Campaign for Rhodes capital campaign to support student scholarships, faculty recruitment, community engagement, and campus enhancements, including the $30 million Robertson Hall science facility.

The Bolivar, Tennessee, native has chaired national organizations (American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) and Congressional committees on higher education while remaining down-to-earth, good-humored, and always focused on the task at hand.

He takes pride in being a “students’ president” and is seen regularly with his wife, Carole, walking their dog on the campus grounds. He is also the proud father of Jack Troutt and Carole Ann Troutt Schmidt, and grandfather of J.P. Schmidt.