Rhodes College to Award Honorary Degree to Retired Coca-Cola Enterprises Executive Vicki R. Palmer

head and shoulder image of Vicki Palmer

Financial expert and community leader Vicki R. Palmer ’75 of Atlanta, GA, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree at the 173rd Commencement of Rhodes College on Saturday, May 14.

Palmer is president of The Palmer Group LLC, a general management consulting company which she started after retiring from Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. in 2009 as executive vice president for financial services and administration. Her career with Coca-Cola spanned more than 25 years.

Palmer graduated from Southside High School in Memphis as valedictorian and was recruited by a professor to attend Rhodes. After earning a B.A. degree in economics and business administration, she began her professional career at First Tennessee Bank, where she became the first woman to serve as chief lending officer. 

“When I left Rhodes, I was exceptionally well prepared to begin the process of making my mark on the world,” said Palmer in the Fall 2017 issue of the Rhodes magazine. “I am a lifelong beneficiary of the Rhodes experience.”

While working full time at First Tennessee Bank, Palmer earned an MBA in finance from The University of Memphis. She later worked as a financial management executive at FedEx and eventually moved to Atlanta, where she became the manager of pension investments for the Coca-Cola Company. When Coca-Cola Enterprises was launched in 1986, Palmer was named assistant treasurer and rose to become executive vice president for financial services and administration.

Palmer has been a member of several boards including ones for First Horizon National Corporation, Haverty Furniture Companies, Spelman College, and the Joseph Lowery Institute.  She served on the Rhodes Board of Trustees for more than 20 years and is a member of the New Council of Emeriti at Rhodes.  

As an alumna, Palmer has generously contributed to Rhodes, securing scholarships and job opportunities for students, assisting with the recruitment of students of color,  and assisting with the establishment of a Rhodes Black Alumni Chapter.

Palmer was presented the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008 and the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.

Seating tickets are required for Commencement on May 14, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in Fisher Memorial Garden (BCLC in the event of rain). The program also will stream live from the Rhodes website (www.rhodes.edu).