Rhodes College Announces Strategic Plan that Centers on Student Experience and Community Engagement

Interior shot of building with stone and large windows looking out onto another stone building with a student sitting on a red couch

The Rhodes College Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the college’s new ten-year strategic plan, Achieving Our Best: A Strategic Vision for Rhodes College 2020-2030, at their most recent meeting.

“The adoption of this strategic vision is a landmark moment for Rhodes College. Rhodes distinguishes itself as one of the few colleges to offer a transformative and rigorous residential liberal arts education in a major city. This plan is the blueprint for building on those advantages in a sustainable way over the next decade,” says Board of Trustees chair Cary Fowler ’71.  “We are excited to begin this new chapter of Rhodes history.”

The plan will strengthen the college’s commitment to provide a decidedly residential liberal arts and sciences education. The strategic plan maps the college’s objective to facilitate growth sustainably while maintaining and enhancing the academic and creative excellence that gives Rhodes graduates an edge that they carry throughout their professional life. 

“We believe our best days are ahead. This strategic vision represents a recommitment to the standard of excellence that has served Rhodes for generations and also acknowledges the need to adapt for a new generation of students and scholars,” Rhodes College president Marjorie Hass says.

Development of the strategic plan was an eighteen-month process that incorporated 5,000 voices. Rhodes engaged in extensive internal and external research, soliciting the input of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, Memphians, and prospective students and their families.

This vision for the next decade at Rhodes College includes focus in four intersecting areas of emphasis:

  • Building Academic and Creative Excellence

Central to this aim is the enhancement of the fine and performing arts, expansion of the community-based learning that we offer in partnership with Memphis organizations, the development of innovative interdisciplinary centers modeled on our Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center, broadening our curriculum to more deeply engage global perspectives and issues, and supporting initiatives to attract, retain, and support an excellent and diverse faculty. 

  • Fostering a Culture of Belonging

Our goal is to foster a sense of belonging—on campus and in our city—so that students have a stable foundation from which to be challenged and learn to lead, continuing to emphasize civic engagement and the responsibilities demanded by our Honor Code.

  • Ensuring a Transformational Student Experience

Rhodes will renew and renovate existing residential space and programming, expand need-based aid, redesign our first-year experience to emphasize community, cultivate passionate connections to students’ fields of study, and develop a structured four-year career exploration process.

  • Securing Our Future

The success of these initiatives depends on maintaining a stable financial foundation, sustaining an outstanding workforce, planning the campus’ future, cultivating community partnerships, enhancing efficiency, telling our story, and preparing for uncertainty.  

Rhodes will make use of this strategic vision to inform and guide decisions over the next decade while remaining attentive to emerging opportunities and challenges not foreseen by the plan. A committee of the Board will identify and investigate possible upcoming risks and broader trends in order to adapt for the future.

“In an increasingly unsure political and economic landscape, it has never been more important for us to ensure that our graduates are intellectually ready to tackle the world’s most pressing problems, are leadership ready to create equitable and prosperous communities, and career and graduate school ready to succeed in tomorrow’s economy,” Hass says.