SMU Law Dean named President of Rhodes College

Dallas (SMU) – Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean and professor in SMU’s Dedman School of Law, has been named the new president of Rhodes College, a four-year private institution in Memphis with approximately 2,000 students.

The announcement of Collins as Rhodes College’s 21st president follows a national search that began in March 2021 after the announcement that former President Marjorie Hass was resigning to lead the Council of Independent Colleges.

“While we will miss the passion that Dean Collins brought to Dedman Law and SMU, we are proud for her transition to this important leadership role,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Her students at Rhodes College will be her first priority, just as her students have been here at SMU Dedman Law. We wish her well.”

Collins will assume the presidency at Rhodes July 1, 2022.

SMU’s Dedman School of Law this year welcomed the most academically gifted class in the school’s history. During Collins’ time as dean, Dedman Law has nearly doubled the diversity of its entering classes while increasing the median LSAT score and GPA of entering students. Three new academic centers that launched under her administration – the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center, the Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation, and the Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law & Leadership – have significantly broadened opportunities for Dedman Law students.

“We have had much to celebrate during Dean Collins’ tenure here, said SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth G. Loboa. “Dedman Law’s pro bono legal clinics have grown dramatically under Dean Collins’ leadership. Her commitment to supporting the Dallas community was well-demonstrated when Dedman Law launched an emergency helpline to offer North Texas residents free assistance with pandemic-related issues such as housing and immigration. That kind of impact will continue here at SMU and in Dallas, and her experience in community partnerships will be a valuable asset for Rhodes College.”

Collins joined SMU in July 2014 from Wake Forest University, where she served on the law school faculty and as the vice provost for the university. She joined Wake Forest in 2003 after working in private practice, in the Office of Legal Counsel at the United States Department of Justice, and in the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (serving in that office from 1994 to 2002).

She graduated magna cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard University in 1991, and received her B.A. in history, cum laude with Distinction in the Major, from Yale University in 1987.

Rhodes College was founded in 1848 in Clarksville, Tenn., and was for many years affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. In 1925, President Charles Diehl led the move to the present campus in Memphis where, in 1945, the college became known as Southwestern at Memphis. The name Rhodes College was adopted in 1984 to honor former College president Peyton Nalle Rhodes.


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