Rhodes Awards Honorary Degree to Carole Pearson Troutt

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The Rhodes Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that the honorary Doctorate of Humanities will be awarded to Carole Pearson Troutt. An honorary doctorate is traditionally presented at commencement exercises and is among the highest honors the college bestows. The Rhodes College graduating class of 2020 will be honored at a virtual celebration on Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. CDT. The celebration will be streamed live on rhodes.edu. The college will hold an in-person commencement ceremony at a date to be determined.

A native of Bells, Tennessee, Carole Pearson had hoped to attend Southwestern in the fall of 1968, but a scholarship offer from a small college in Jackson, Tennessee, changed her plans. Little did she know that thirty years later her life would be inextricably tied with the college formerly known as Southwestern.

Her partnership with Rhodes began in 1999 when she made the move to Memphis with the newly named president William E. Troutt (who frequently shared that marrying Carole was the best decision he had ever made.) Dr. Troutt served as president until June 2017. Having already served as a presidential spouse for the past 17 years at Belmont University, Carole could not have anticipated a total of 35 years of service as the first lady of a college, and she certainly didn’t anticipate the move from Nashville to Memphis. But as Memphians do, she fell in love with the both the people she met and the city of Memphis itself. And Memphis and the Rhodes community fell in love with Carole Troutt.

The role of a presidential spouse is 24/7. Carole was always present with kindness and compassion for both the challenges and the celebrations.

“Carole never forgets a name and face. She remembers birthdays, anniversaries, and each of those big and small moments she knows you treasure. This, of course, is why one attends a small college--to be among those who care. And it’s why Carole Troutt was perfectly suited for her position at Rhodes,” said Deborah Craddock ’80, Vice Chair of the Rhodes Board of Trustees.

Carole Troutt also has a special relationship to the Class of 2020 as it was the last class to arrive during her tenure at the college.

“The Troutts were a huge factor in my decision to attend Rhodes and I am especially grateful for Mrs. Troutt’s warmth and kindness throughout my four years of college. We will be so honored to receive our degrees at the same time as Mrs. Troutt,” shared Annie Cribb ’20. “She will always have a very special place in our hearts.”