Rhodes College names Jennifer M. Collins new president

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rhodes College has announced Jennifer M. Collins as its 21st president following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees.

Collins is currently the Judge James Noel Dean and professor of law at Southern Methodist University in Texas, the college said.

“The appointment of Jennifer Collins is the happy result of a lengthy and thorough national search which drew interest and applications from an incredibly diverse pool of candidates from inside and outside higher education,” said Board of Trustees Chair and Presidential Search Committee Co-chair Cary Fowler “What made it clear to the search committee that President-elect Collins was the right choice for Rhodes was the combination of her exceptional leadership, her commitment to the promise of the liberal arts, and her passion for the possibilities inherent in Rhodes. She will be a welcome presence on campus and an engaged citizen of Memphis.”

Collins said she is honored to join the Rhodes community in a statement released by Rhodes.

Since 2014, Collins has served as the dean of the Dedman School of Law at SMU, where she works with more than 100 faculty members and supports more than 800 domestic and international students.

She has responsibility for managing a $49 million annual budget; hiring, supporting, and retaining faculty and staff; fundraising; and managing internal and external communications, according to a release from Rhodes.

Collins joined the law faculty at Wake Forest University (NC) in 2003 and was named associate provost for academic and strategic initiatives in 2010 and vice provost in 2013. As the first law professor to hold these roles, she was responsible for strategic planning, the fostering of interdisciplinary partnerships, budgeting, faculty and student recruitment, and the enhancement of the undergraduate and graduate student experience across multiple schools, according to the release from Rhodes.

Collins taught courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, family law, gender and the law, and career development and legal professionalism. She has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching.

Collins clerked for the Hon. Dorothy W. Nelson in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after graduating from Harvard Law School, and worked in private practice in Washington, D.C., before joining the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel as an attorney-adviser in 1993. She then served as Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002. She returned to private practice in 2002 at Sidley Austin before moving to Wake Forest.

She is the co-author of Privilege or Punish? Criminal Justice and The Challenge of Family Ties (Oxford University Press 2009). In addition, she has written many other law review articles and essays featured in Yale Law Journal, Boston University Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and more. Collins’ scholarship is focused on issues involving families and the criminal justice system, according to the release from Rhodes.

She received her B.A., cum laude with distinction, in history from Yale University (CT) and her J.D., magna cum laude from Harvard University (MA), where she also served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review. Collins and her husband, Adam Charnes, are the parents of Jake, Lily and Sam.

Collins will assume her responsibilities on July 1, 2022, the college said.