Frank H.T. Rhodes is considered one of the most impactful university presidents of the 20th century. During his almost twenty-year tenure at Cornell University, research funding increased from $88 million to over $300 million annually, including major initiatives in nanofabrication, supercomputing, Asian studies and biotechnology. Diversity on Cornell’s campus increased, with the number of women and minority faculty members more than doubling and the percentage of minority students on campus nearly tripling. Rhodes also led successful fundraising and building campaigns to redefine the Cornell landscape for generations to come. Rhodes is a visionary scholar and leader. He was appointed as a member of the National Science Board by President Ronald Reagan, studied as a former Fulbright scholar and Fulbright distinguished fellow and holds 35 honorary degrees, including one from ASU in Spring 2006.
In 2001, Rhodes published The Creation of the Future, which discusses the role of the American university. The Creation of the Future played a key role in helping ASU President Michael Crow design his model for a New American University. The Frank Rhodes Lecture provides an opportunity for exceptional leaders who are committed to redefining the educational and cultural landscape to share their visionary ideas and outlook.
Remembering Frank H. T. Rhodes
On February 3, 2020, the world lost an influential voice and a visionary leader in higher education. Frank H. T. Rhodes passed away at 93 leaving behind decades of work advancing higher education. Arguably noted as one of Cornell's greatest presidents, he held an impressive 35 honorary degrees and was the recipient of the Bigsby Medal of the Geological Society, the Justin Morrill Award, the Higher Education Leadership Award, the Clark Kerr Medal of the University of California-Berkeley, and the Ian Campbell Medal of the American Geological Institute.
As the 9th president of Cornell University, Rhodes changed the course of the university. Among his many, many achievements, one the trademarks of his tenure was his unfailing drive and perseverance to bolster student and faculty diversity. The number of minority and women faculty doubled during his tenure, while the percentage of minority students increased from 8 percent in 1977 to 28 percent in 1994. In addition to his invaluable impact in academia, Rhodes was appointed as a member of the National Science Board under President Ronald Reagan, and as a member of the President's Educational Policy Advisory Committee by President George H. W. Bush. The impact of his leadership on Cornell and higher education is evidenced in his multitude of accomplishments, publications and accolades.
Rhodes shared President Crow's vision for A New American University and the belief that we need to redefine the role of higher education in society. While the world may be deprived of his wisdom and insight, his legacy and vision for the future of higher education will remain steadfast and unparalleled in the ASU Frank Rhodes Lecture Series on the Creation of the Future: A Lecture Series for a New American University.