February 4: Masonic University of Tennessee, financed by the Tennessee Grand Lodge, is established in conjunction with the Clarksville Male Academy.
The Board of Directors holds its first meeting and appoints Rev. W. F. Hopkins the first president.
First faculty meeting takes place.
The cornerstone ceremony is held for the college’s first permanent building, The Castle.
Richard Nelson Newell becomes president.
William A. Forbes becomes president.
J. E. Wilcox is the first graduate of the college.
November 11: Control of the college transfers from the Tennessee State Masonic Organization to the local Masons. The Tennessee Legislature passes an Act establishing Montgomery Masonic College.
May 13: The ownership of the property is returned to the Clarksville Male Academy who first had the property in 1832.
William M. Stewart becomes president.
The financially strapped college is saved when President William M. Stewart negotiates its purchase by the Presbyterian Synod of Nashville. The college is renamed Stewart College in honor of President Stewart.
R.B. McMullen becomes president.
The first residence hall on the Clarksville campus, Robb Hall is constructed. The building is named for Alfred Robb, a young attorney, who donated his land adjacent to the college for its construction.
The college closes when all students except two leave to serve in the Confederate Army. During the Union occupation of Clarksville, Robb Hall is used as a hospital, where President McMullen works as a nurse. Alfred Robb, a Board member, is killed at the Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, while William A. Forbes, former president, is killed at the Second Battle of Bull Run, also in 1862. After contracting smallpox, President McMullen dies in 1865.
After repairing damaged buildings, Stewart College reopens with Dr. John Bunyan Shearer as president.
The Plan of Union is initially adopted by the Presbyterian Synods of Nashville, Memphis, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas as a basis of cooperation in the reorganization of Stewart College as the single Presbyterian College for these synods. The Synods of Arkansas and Texas subsequently withdrew to support their own colleges.
May 31: The charter for Southwestern Presbyterian University (SPU) is registered with the State of Tennessee. Enrollment was 131 students.
The Stewart Chair of the Natural Sciences is the first endowed chair.
The title of “president” is replaced by “Chancellor.” John N. Waddel becomes chancellor.
The first chapters of national fraternities are established: Kappa Sigma, Alpha Tau Omega, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
The School of Theology headed by Dr. Joseph R. Wilson, father of later U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, holds its first classes.
Charles C. Hersman becomes chancellor.
James M. Rawlings becomes chancellor.
George Summey becomes chancellor.
A telephone for student use is placed in Robb Hall.
First football season starts with games against University of Nashville, Bethel College, and Vanderbilt University.
The first student yearbook, the Sou’wester, is published.
The first football homecoming game is played against Sewanee.
The federal government awards the college $25,000 for damages incurred at the hands of Union troops during the Civil War.
Women begin to attend classes, but the board prohibits them from earning credit.
Neander M. Woods becomes chancellor
William M. Dinwiddie becomes chancellor
The faculty minutes indicate that women can earn credit for classes.
The title “chancellor” changes back to “president,” and J.R. Dobyns becomes president.
Spanish is taught for the first time.
The Board votes to admit women on the same terms as men.
The Great War affects the college, as half the students either leave for military service or to go home.
Dr. Charles E. Diehl becomes president.
Margaret Huxtable Townsend becomes the first woman faculty member.
The first issue of the student newspaper, the Sou’wester is published.
A suit is brought by the college against Clarksville to get approval to move the college. The board approves a name for the new college as “Southwestern, The College of the Mississippi Valley.”
Margaret Trahern is the first woman to graduate.
Even though the courts have not yet ruled that the college can move to Memphis, Dr. Diehl selects Henry C. Hibbs as the architect of the new campus.
The first women’s sorority, Chi Omega, is founded.
Construction begins on the main administration building for the new campus, which was dedicated in 1925 as a memorial to Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer of New Orleans. Palmer had played a critical role in forming the Plan of Union in 1874.
A decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court allows the college to move to Memphis and the corporate name becomes “Southwestern, The College of the Mississippi Valley.” The seal is amended to reflect the name change.
Fargason Athletic Field is named to recognize some of the Memphis land donors.
The Lynx becomes the official mascot.
September 24: The college opens its doors in Memphis with 406 students and 16 faculty (including seven who have moved from Clarksville).
The first structures on the new campus are complete: Palmer Hall for administration and classrooms, The Science Hall for laboratories and classrooms, the refectory, the gatehouse, Calvin and Robb Residence Halls, and Ashner Gateway.
The yearbook becomes The Lynx.
Eleanor Beckham is the captain of the first women’s basketball team.
The Pals Drama Club performs a full-length play, “The Importance of Being Ernest.”
The first Memphis Commencement is held in June.
The first issue of the Alumni Magazine is published.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce and future U.S. President Herbert Hoover awarded honorary doctor of laws.
College Architecture in America, co-authored by Charles Z. Klauder, is published and features campus buildings.
Radios are installed in Robb, Evergreen and Stewart Residence Halls. Field hockey is played indoors, and a hand ball court is built in the south end of Calvin Hall.
Robert Penn Warren—later famous as a poet and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist—teaches at the college for a year.
The Tutorial System begins.
The first students are inducted into the academic Hall of Fame, and their pictures are placed on the wall in Palmer Hall.
President Diehl is charged by a group of local ministers with heresy and financial recklessness in the management and building of the college, but a hearing before the Board of Directors cleared him of all charges.
The first “Lynx Lair,” named by contest winner Eloise Brett, opens in the basement of Neely Hall as a coffee shop.
The Department of Music is established by Burnet Tuthill, who also organizes a choir, which would later become the Singers.
Sigma Nu and Kappa Alpha fraternities build lodges.
The football team defeats powerhouse Vanderbilt 12 to 0.
The Seidman Trophy in Athletics is first presented to students who exhibit excellence both in the classroom and on the athletic field.
Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha fraternities complete their lodges.
The 13th College Training Detachment (Aircrew) is stationed at the college during World War II.
Intercollegiate football, track, tennis, and golf are not played because of the war.
The first Commencement is held in the newly planted Fisher Garden.
Mary Ann Banning is the first female to be elected Student Government president.
A new interdisciplinary course, “Man in the Light of History and Religion,” is established.
“Southwestern: The College of the Mississippi Valley,” is renamed “Southwestern At Memphis,” also known as “SAM.”
The college sells property for the establishment of Evergreen Presbyterian Church on University.
Temporary buildings are constructed on campus to accommodate the influx of veterans under the G.I. Bill.
Voorhies Hall and William Ires Hunt ’34 Memorial Gateway are dedicated.
Bach’s B minor mass is performed for the first time in Memphis by the Singers, and the Singers make a phonograph recording.
Dr. Peyton Nalle Rhodes becomes president.
Phi Beta Kappa chapter installed.
First Asian-American student, Willie Bow, is admitted.
First art courses are offered on campus.
Television is installed in Voorhies Hall, a women’s residence hall.
Burrow Library is dedicated.
Grant of $35,000 from Carnegie Corp. funds International Studies Program.
Ellett Residence Hall is dedicated.
Southwestern wins the Orgill Bowl in the first SAM-Sewanee competition.
Southwestern is one of ten liberal arts college to receive a $30,000 grant from The Danforth Foundation of St. Louis to develop, among other goals, practical Christian service projects. The Danforth Program for Christian Service is founded and will later become the Kinney Program.
The college purchases 671 West Drive to be used as the president’s house, and the Rhodes family moves in.
First Parent’s Day on campus
Bellingrath and Townsend Halls are dedicated.
Moore Moore Infirmary and Halliburton Tower are dedicated.
Alaska solar eclipse expedition by Physics Department
Halliburton Tower bell rings for first time
Board votes to admit students on equal basis, regardless of race
First two Black students, Lorenzo Childress and Coby Smith, enroll at the college as day students.
First football game on new Fargason field. SAM won 28 to 7 against Centre.
Students participate in “kneel ins,” alongside Black and white students from other local colleges and high schools, in support of the racial integration of local churches.
Board of Directors establishes a Sabbatical Leave Program for faculty.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson appoints Southwestern alum Abe Fortas, Class of 1930, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dr. John David Alexander becomes president.
Kappa Delta All Sing tapes aired on 53 radio stations
Burrow Library gets first photocopier, a Xerox 914
Mastodon unearthed in excavation for Frazier Jelke Science Building
The Thomas W. Briggs Student Center is dedicated. The building includes the Language center, bookstore, lounge and office space for student groups.
Saturday classes are abolished.
Alfred C. Glassell Hall, Frazier Jelke Science Center, Kennedy Chemistry Hall, and Buckman Library are all dedicated.
The library stays open to midnight for the first time.
Wearing a coat and tie for dinner rule is abolished.
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis prompts the college to close early for Easter Break.
Social Regulations Council formed
Black Student Association founded.
Dr. William Lukens Bowden becomes president.
Prof. Yerger Hunt Clifton creates the “Southwestern at Oxford” summer program, later “British Studies at Oxford.”
Clough Hall is dedicated, including the Clough-Hanson Art Gallery.
Men′s soccer team is organized.
Ruth Sherman Hyde Memorial Gymnasium for Women is dedicated
In Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the U.S. Department of Transportation would need to find alternatives to the proposed route of Interstate 40 through Overton Park, just to the south of the College. The interstate is routed around the city, instead of alongside the campus.
Women′s Varsity Tennis team is formed.
College radio station, WLYX, first broadcast
Women′s Studies Course taught for first time.
Black Studies Course taught for first time.
James H. Daughdrill, Jr. begins as president.
Dedication of Alburty Swimming Complex
Rare book by Thomas Jefferson found in Burrow Library
Lawrence “Lon” Anthony copper and bronze sculpture, “Campus Life,” is completed.
Biology Department gets electron microscope.
Seven buildings are named to National Register of Historic Places: Palmer Hall, Ashner Gateway, Kennedy Hall, Neely Hall, Robb Hall, White Hall and Harris Memorial Lodge.
First Awards Convocation held
Campus referendum determined college nickname would remain “LYN.”
Anne Marie Caskey Williford Hall is dedicated.
First Rites of Spring weekend held
First Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching awarded to Dr. Jack U. Russell, Mathematics
First Dean′s Award for Research and Creative Activity awarded to Dr. John F. Copper, International Studies
McCoy Theatre is dedicated.
Physics building dedicated as Peyton Nalle Rhodes Hall, in memory of President Rhodes.
Charles E. Diehl Society founded
A grant from the PEW Foundation provides a VAX unit from the Digital Equipment Corporation for the Computer Center.
First Distinguished Alumni Awards are given to Lewis Donelson ′38 and Dr. James Gladney ′38
Women′s Soccer becomes a varsity sport.
Statue of President Charles Diehl, created by sculptor Ted Rust, is dedicated on campus in front of Burrow Library.
Hassell Hall, home of the music department, is dedicated.
July 1: Southwestern at Memphis becomes Rhodes College.
The East Hall dormitory is opened.
Seal of the college in the Palmer Hall cloister is dedicated as Benefactors′ Circle.
The Center for Counseling and Career Services is established.
Time Magazine labels Rhodes as one of the country′s "Nine Nifty Colleges."
Pi Kappa Alpha national headquarters is purchased by the college. It later becomes King Hall, home of the Meeman Center for Lifelong Learning.
“Man in the Light of History and Religion” course changed to “Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion”
The W. Raymond Cooper portrait is the first Distinguished Faculty Portrait unveiled.
Spann Place townhouses are built and dedicated.
Charles E. Diehl Society Award for Faculty Service is established, which will later become the Jameson M. Jones Award for Faculty Service
The college’s service efforts expand. First Tex-Mex Trip takes place, Habitat for Humanity Chapter is chartered, and the Kinney Souper Contact begins.
East Hall is renamed Robinson Hall, in memory of James Dinkins Robinson
Alpha Kappa Alpha is chartered; the first traditionally Black sorority on campus.
7000 feet of iron fencing is installed around the perimeter of campus
Kinney program sponsors first Hunger and Homelessness week.
Mock Trial team, under the leadership of Prof. Marcus Pohlmann, wins the national title for the first time.
Buckman Hall is dedicated.
Karen Conway becomes the first Director of Multicultural Affairs.
The President′s House on Morningside Drive is purchased.
Bonner Scholars program starts service scholarships.
The Master of Science in Accounting program begins.
February 11: College closes for the first time since the Civil War, due to an ice storm.
Controversy emerges over whether a student group, the “Gay-Straight Alliance,” will be permitted on campus.
The college’s first website goes live.
Dedication of Bryan Campus Life Center and Grand Opening of the new Lynx Lair.
John Templeton Foundation names Rhodes to 1997-98 Honor Roll for Character-Building Colleges.
First Rites to Play takes place in the spring
Swimming and Field hockey are added as varsity sports
First women′s field hockey game vs. Sewanee
William Earl Troutt becomes president
The sundial is constructed by faculty to honor Pres. James H. Daughdrill, Jr.
Partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is created.
Rhodes College is selected as a Thomas J. Watson Foundation School.
East Village residence hall opens
After a gift from the Paul Barret, Jr. Trust, the groundbreaking is held for the new Paul Barret, Jr. Library.
A $6 million grant from the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust helps underwrite several new programs
Mother Jones Magazine names Rhodes one of the top-10 activist colleges
Prof. Tim Huebner and four faculty colleagues launch the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies, a summer undergraduate research program, funded by the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust.
Ben Stein is the first speaker in the Student Lecture Series
The Rhodes Student Associate Program is launched
Burrow Library closes, and the Paul Barret, Jr. Library opens to the public.
CODA, the Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts, is established, funded by the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust.
The Adrienne McMillan Burns Labyrinth is dedicated.
A $5 million gift establishes the Mike Curb Institute for Music
Dr. Russ Wigginton leads the college’s effort to launch Crossroads to Freedom, a digital archive of primary materials documenting the civil rights era in Memphis.
Consumers Digest ranks Rhodes as number three among the nation′s private liberal arts colleges.
Burrow Library reopens as Burrow Hall
Women’s Studies program changes its name to Gender and Sexuality Studies
Irwin Lainoff Stadium at Stauffer Field is dedicated
Dean of the Faculty Michael Drompp establishes the LGBTQ Working Group at the college
Rhodes hosts the 2010 American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament
For the first time, the college streams the Commencement celebration on the Rhodes website
Rhodes celebrates being named the Kaplan/Newsweek top Service-Minded School.
The Shelby Foote Collection is acquired by Rhodes, with the support of Steve and Riea Lainoff
The Winston Wolf Track and Field Complex is dedicated
Clarence Day Foundation establishes the Clarence Day Scholars program, providing scholarships to 10 students per class coming from Shelby County
First Varsity Lacrosse game played
West Village opens to residents
Crain Football Field named in recognition of Brenda and Lester Crain, Jr. Class of 1951, who provided funding for an artificial surface for the football and men’s lacrosse field
Memphis Center is launched with a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation
Under the leadership of Prof. Jonathan Judaken, the college starts the “Communities in Conversation” series, established through a gift from Becky and Spence Wilson.
Steve and Riea Lainoff Crop Trust Fellowship in honor of Cary Fowler ’71 is established
College purchases Evergreen Presbyterian Church property, which eventually houses a number of academic departments and programs, as well as a concert hall
Mason Field is dedicated in recognition of the Mason family, who provided funding for an artificial surface to the field hockey and women’s lacrosse field.
The college purchases the former National Cotton Council Building, which it renames Parkway Hall, for use as a residence hall
Prof. Stephen Haynes starts the Liberal Arts in Prison Program at the West Tennessee Therapeutic Center in Henning, Tennessee
Marjorie Hass becomes the college’s first woman president
Robertson Hall, made possible by gift from Patricia and Charles Robertson, Jr., is dedicated
The Peyton Nalle Rhodes Society is established to recognize donors who have made gifts over $5 million to the college. Names are inscribed in the floor of Barret Library foyer.
McNeill Concert Hall, the former sanctuary of Evergreen Presbyterian Church, is dedicated in honor of Mary and Phillip H. McNeill
The Memphis Center is renamed the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center, in recognition of their $5 million gift to the Center
After extensive historical research by Prof. Stephen Haynes and a lengthy discernment process, the Board votes to rename Palmer Hall “Southwestern Hall.” In his nineteenth-century writings, Palmer had consistently championed biblical arguments in support of white supremacy.
The college sends students home after spring break because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty teach the remainder of their spring courses and all fall courses remotely via Zoom.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump appoints Amy Coney Barret, Class of 1994, to the U.S. Supreme Court
Rhodes holds its first virtual Commencement ceremony, for the Class of 2020
The college partners with the Posse Foundation, and the first cohort of Posse Scholars join Rhodes
Students return to campus to live and attend a mix of in-person and virtual classes
Rhodes holds two in-person Commencements at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021
Jennifer Collins becomes president
Deborah Craddock becomes first woman chair of the Board of Trustees
Because of the work of the Curb Institute led by Prof. John Bass, Billboard Magazine names Rhodes a Top Music Business School
“Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion” becomes SEARCH
East Village C and the Unity Lodge open
Rhodes celebrates its 175th anniversary
W. Raymond Cooper, Southwestern at Memphis, 1848-1948 (Richmond, Va.: 1949).
DLynx, Rhodes College Digital Archives, http://dlynx.stephenandjenny.com/jspui/
Stephen R. Haynes, The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation (New York, 2012).
Rhodes College Office of Development
James E. Roper, Southwestern At Memphis, 1948-1975 (Memphis, Tenn., 1975).
Bennet Wood, Rhodes, 1848-1998: A Sesquicentennial Yearbook (Little Rock, Ark., 1998).