In 2004, Rhodes launched an innovative program that provides students with an opportunity for professional employment, campus offices with fresh young talent, and both students and the campus with an economic boost.
The Rhodes Student Associate Program (RSAP) is inspired in part by a story from Rhodes’ past. When alumnus Russell Perry ’33 shared with Troutt that as a student he was basically a one-man communications office for the entire campus, he probably didn’t realize what he was setting into motion!
“Building on that idea, we looked at work colleges like Berea to see what we might learn,” Troutt says. “We received funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and from that came a program that certainly transformed the lives of the students involved.”
RSAP has grown from 20 undergraduates working in 18 offices to more than 100 associates in more than 40 academic and administrative departments. The program hires students to work between 10 and 15 hours a week, offering them the opportunity to earn college funding and the chance to explore career interests while getting valuable on-the-job experience.
“It has also provided such a well of talent for offices around the campus,” says Troutt. “One of the ways we’ve been able to manage our budget is to have all these responsible students doing staff work—in some cases, very high-level work.”
The program helps Rhodes operate with a lean staff and saves the college about $750,000 every year. Funding and meaningful opportunities for students, financial stability, and practical assistance for departments—RSAP continues to have a positive impact on the college.
“Most importantly,” Troutt reflects, “it has been such a meaningful experience for students. I have enjoyed hearing graduates talk about their RSAP experiences and how it has given them an advantage when applying for graduate programs or professional schools and their first jobs.”