Rhodes Magazine

Editor's blog

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Oh, Spring! Where Art Thou?

Spring is both my favorite time and my least favorite time on campus. Favorite because there is so much going on—speakers, Rites of Spring, Earth Day, farmers market, track and field, softball, baseball. Least favorite because there is so much going on—and I can’t do it all. Favorite because every moment spent with graduating students takes on special meaning. Least favorite because those students will soon be gone.

The spring issue of Rhodes magazine features a handful of those departing students, each of whom has left an indelible mark on the college. I mean that, of course, in the best of ways. Seeing our seniors both reflective and incredibly excited about the future simply mirrors the dichotomy of the season.

I suppose it is good that as our seniors prepare to leave us, our Admission staff anxiously awaits commitments from the next class of students, who will arrive in fall. Soon, the pomp and circumstance of May commencement will give way to a typically hot and steamy August move-in day. And the cycle will begin anew.

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Wonderful and highly successful alum Sarah Lacy ’98 (that’s right, she has her own entry in Wikipedia) spoke on campus a few years back and told a group of students that, if they wanted to be accomplished in the world of publishing, they had better start a blog and post regularly. Show potential employers that they could be consistent and produce engaging content on an ongoing basis. I should have listened more closely and heeded her advice regarding consistency.

As is evident from the lengthy time between my last post and this one, I have apparently been suffering from some winter blog doldrums. Although today here in Memphis feels like winter, the sequel, we know spring is just around the corner because of the tiny blooms beginning to pop from the trees and bushes. Working in an historic building within an officially recognized arboretum and TreeCampus USA has its perks!

Moving forward, I hereby commit to be a lot more consistent in my blogging. I must keep Sarah proud of her alma mater.

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Banner Year for Homecoming/Reunion Weekend

Betty Peyton ‘58 and Betty Sue Wilcox Shaw ‘53 represent their class years during Homecoming/Reunion Weekend.

I think it’s safe to say that many of us around Rhodes are still riding a Homecoming/Reunion Weekend high, even though the event was Oct. 25-26. I personally caught up with two friends, one here for her 20th reunion (Jennifer Cobb Pyron ’93) and the other for her 10th (Lisa Di Trolio ’03). Interestingly, I ran into each of them in the Palmer cloister, just outside my office. It was amazing to see the parade of alums pouring through the huge cloister doors over the weekend, stopping underneath those beautiful arches that guard the Rhodes Seal in the slate floor. So many had memories of the architectural gem that they just had to come by to visit it.

One of our alums returned home from the weekend to compose a touching tribute to her reunion experience and her life as a student at Southwestern in Memphis. Jane Howze ’73 put into words the feelings that are so hard to convey to prospective students in her article for CultureMap Houston, whose editor-in-chief is yet another alum, Clifford Pugh ’73. Jane and Clifford and their classmates were among the hundreds who traveled to Memphis for the special annual gathering. Alumni Relations Director Tracy Vezina Patterson ’84, P’17, called it one of the best Homecoming/Reunion Weekends to date.

Another traveling alum has been in the news lately. Katie Jacobs Stanton ’91 was spotlighted in Fortune magazine. The article takes a look at Katie’s ascending star in the technology field. She was the first-ever White House director of Citizen Participation under the Obama administration. She is now the vice president of international market development for Twitter and works out of Paris. How did Rhodes impact Katie’s career? Read our profile on her from the Winter 2010 issue and view her speech to Leadership Memphis from September 2009.

Traveling widely isn’t just for alums, it seems. One of our current students promises to be a future Jane Howze or Katie Jacobs Stanton. Maddie Carwile ’16 has traveled the world, including several trips with her father to visit colleges. Fortunately for us, she chose Rhodes. Find out why in this Campus Culture feature, penned by one of our other great students, Ali Swee ’16.


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It’s True: History Does Repeat Itself

Shelby Foote with Luke Lampton (Photo courtesy Rhodes College Archives)

In 1987, a very special bond formed between a Rhodes history major and a soon-to-become famous local historian. The student, a lover both of history and literature, went on follow in the footsteps of his physician father as well as to run his community’s newspaper. Even in the ’80s Rhodes graduated high achievers! The historian appeared as an expert in a Ken Burns PBS special and catapulted to fame. But in the early years of their budding friendship/mentorship, the two made a decision to document a moment in time—one semester’s worth of lectures. Circle around to 2013, and the two friends and their recordings become reunited at Rhodes. Read about this great tale of admiration and respect in the “Rhodes & Beyond” column appearing in the fall issue of Rhodes magazine.

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Contexts and Consequences


Statue of King Frederick II, Berlin (Photo by Kyle Grady)

“Great ideas are not born in a vacuum; they have contexts and consequences.” With that consideration, Dr. Geoff Bakewell invites the reader to accompany him as he recalls his May trip to Berlin along with 20 faculty members from Search for Values in Light of Western History and Religion. Better known by its one-word title “Search,” the program—or its counterpart Life: Then and Now—is a requirement for all Rhodes students. In writing about the faculty’s trip, Bakewell, who is director of Search, provides an overview of the sites visited by the group and connects them to classroom topics familiar to all who have taken Search. In the process, he addresses contexts and consequences in a manner made possible only by reflections on the rich history of Berlin itself. “Situating Beloved Texts” is an article both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Stunning images taken by two of our multitalented faculty members, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Kyle Grady and Assistant Professor of Art Francesca Tronchin, highlight the story. Many thanks to them for sharing their photographs with Rhodes magazine.

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Looking Back, Moving Forward

Rhodes magazine readers who love history will truly love the fall issue, scheduled to deliver mid-October. Our feature article, written by Jill Johnson Piper ’80 P’17, offers a wonderful telling of the story of Peyton Nalle Rhodes Tower. What do an aircraft carrier and Rhodes Tower have in common? A lot, it turns out. Read Jill’s story to find out why.

In addition to its look back, this issue also offers a glimpse into the future. Thanks to the assistance of architect Richard J. Rusinak, with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, and his computer-aided drawing team, we are able to show you the new look of science coming to our campus

All in all, we feel pretty strongly that this is an issue you won’t want to miss.  Stay tuned to the Editor’s Blog for upcoming posts on our other stories.

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Amazing Alums

As I work to assemble the Class Notes section of the magazine, I am constantly amazed at the lives our alums lead. We have an alum from the Class of 1958 still active in his job as a tennis pro. There is one from 1971 serving in the Peace Corps. A Rhodes family—including four alumni siblings—is pictured in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama. I talked just today with Luke Lampton ’88, whose recent donation to the college archives is featured in our “Rhodes & Beyond” column in the upcoming fall issue. Ed Uthman ’74 contributed a photograph for our back cover. Jill Johnson Piper ’80 wrote our cover story.

Pete Noll ’96 reports on running the Pittsburgh, PA, marathon relay to raise money for charity. He was joined there by Dan Pellegrom ’97. Both Noll and Pellegrom are Peace Corps veterans, by the way. And Stephen Deusner ’96 covers Chris Hicky’s ’96 efforts to make a feature-length film. Looks like the Class of 1996 was a very good year.

In short, as Homecoming/Reunion Weekend draws nearer and nearer, it is fitting that the fall issue offers up nearly 30 pages of Class Notes detailing the achievements of our alumni, along with editorial contributions by several others.

Oh, and a very special cover. Did I mention that recently here on this blog? Over the next week, we will be doing what is known as “putting the magazine to bed.” This is, of course, finalizing our production steps and sending it off to the printer. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing, photographing, editing, and designing it.

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When Magic Happens

Although I love all aspects of putting together Rhodes magazine, I particularly enjoy doing photo shoots. For one thing, they are typically a team effort involving me, a designer, and the photographer working together to create an image that reflects a vision all three of us have in mind. It isn’t always easy.

Last night, designer Larry Ahokas, photographer Jim Kiihnl, and I arrived on campus to create just such an image for our fall cover. As Jim likes to say, the magic happened. I don’t want to spoil it for you readers, but a few teasers might be in order. The shot involves a campus structure with a storied history and required the cooperation of campus safety.

Also, boy were we surprised when a student get-together broke out right where we needed to photograph. No worries, though. We’ve got Photoshop!

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With the start of a new school year, it seems an appropriate time to fire up a magazine blog. Our goal is to keep you connected between issues, to follow up on stories that have appeared previously in the magazine, and to hint at what you can expect to see in the upcoming issue.

To begin, we have a wonderful follow up to our Rhodes & Beyond column from the summer issue. We wrote about three of our students who started The Bridge, a newspaper covering the homeless in Memphis. Vendors from among the homeless community earn money selling the monthly publication. And the formula appears to be working! Here is what we heard recently from Bridge managing editor Caroline Ponseti ‘15:

Gene Wilson, who is around 50 years old, came to The Bridge in April when he was living on the streets.  He was incredibly hard working and quickly rose to be our top vendor. Gene made enough money through The Bridge to move into housing for recovering alcoholics and pay his own subsidized rent.

He continued to sell the paper for the next few weeks. In May, I received an email from a woman claiming to be his former girlfriend, who had seen a profile on Gene on our website. We relayed her message to Gene, and they were able to reconnect.

In June, Gene let us know that he was moving back to Colorado to be with her. James (
Ekenstedt ′15) and Evan (Katz ′15, Bridge co-founders) had developed a close relationship with him. They took him to a goodbye barbecue dinner and were sad to see him go.

Gene credits The Bridge for turning his life around. He had us send him 100 copies of an old issue that he can distribute in Colorado, in hopes of starting a street paper there.

Last month, Gene informed us that he and his girlfriend had gotten married and had moved onto a ranch together, complete with a horse. We all still keep in touch and he continues to be an advocate for the success of street papers and an active supporter of The Bridge through social networking.

Such a great success story, born of the efforts of Rhodes students—and a lot of hard work by Gene! We wish him the best in his new life.

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