Shirley Raines grew up on a farm 70 miles from Memphis, often
driving a tractor through the fertile brown dirt fields of
West Tennessee. But it is several years later that Raines
is breaking real ground. On July 1, Raines will become the
first female president
of The University of Memphis and
the 11th president overall.
Shirley Raines becomes the 11th president of The University
of Memphis on July 1, 2001
excited about joining you, the faculty and staff, to work
together for The University of Memphis, the citizens of Tennessee
and the Mid-South," says Raines.
has been hired to replace Dr. V. Lane Rawlins who left the
University to assume the presidency at Washington State University.
Raines had been dean of education and vice chancellor of academic
services at the University of Kentucky since 1995. She was
chosen from three finalists for The U of M presidency.
the challenges facing The University of Memphis, it is apparent
that Dr. Raines has the mix of experience and personality
required to take the University to the next level," says Tennessee
Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning. "Her demonstrated
ability to create enthusiasm in all segments of the community,
her achievements in raising funds and her success in working
with the legislature make her very well suited for the University's
M Alumni Association president Patrick Lloyd (BBA '76) says,
"Nothing about her seems rehearsed; it was her charisma that
set her apart from the other finalists."
a self-proclaimed "people person," wooed faculty and staff
with a warm personality and exuberant smile during her visit
to campus prior to her selection. Several dozen faculty and
staff members applauded enthusiastically when Raines was named
president via a teleconference.
achievements in higher education have involved bringing people
together around projects to solve problems," says Raines.
"Bringing significant people who are invested in that problem
to work on it means we can usually accomplish what we need."
low literacy and graduation rates in Kentucky, Raines orchestrated
a statewide educational initiative by bringing together legislators
and other state universities. She says this is one of her
proudest accomplishments. "I worked with legislators to get
a literacy bill written that could make a significant difference
in literacy rates and graduation rates," says Raines. Through
the statewide literacy initiative, schools with low literacy
and graduation rates could apply for funding that would enable
teachers at these schools to train at state universities in
programs designed to eradicate the problem. The initiative
was expanded to include adult education.
part of the knowledge and information society, we must have
high literacy rates," adds Raines.
grew up on a farm in the rural community of Bells, Tenn. "I
had some very good teachers who encouraged me, and being part
of a small town gave me the opportunity to be in some leadership
positions," recalls Raines. Her parents still live on the
farm near Bells.
ventured to another rural community to continue her education,
receiving her Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee,
Martin. She then traveled to the east end of the state for
her master's (1972) and doctoral (1979) degrees, both from
the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her career in academia
has included stops at the University of Alabama as an assistant
professor and as chair of elementary and early education;
at North Carolina Wesleyan as coordinator of early education;
and George Mason University as an associate professor. From
1992 to 1995, she served as department chair and professor
at the University of South Florida before moving to the University
Raines and husband, Dr. Robert J. Canady
Dr. Robert J. Canady, is a retired university education professor.
"It is wonderful to have a supportive husband who understands
the demands and the dynamics of the university environment,"
says Raines. Since
retiring, Canady has established a highly regarded reputation
creating stained glass windows for churches and Victorian
homes. "He was the only art major on his football team at
Western New Mexico University," Raines says with a laugh.
"He now is a wonderful artist."
says the pair enjoy the "richness" of university life, taking
in lectures, sporting events and concerts. "There is always
something to do at a university," she says.
says her selection as the first female president of The U
of M was gratifying. "I really see this as a statement that
women should expect to have these leadership opportunities,"
U of M, Raines is quick to describe what she considers to
be the University's biggest challenge. "Resources, resources,
resources," she emphatically points out. "We have to be good
stewards of the resources we already have and to convince
others to contribute to our causes, whether it is though appropriations
or through donors. We must have an endless source of resources
for the University to prosper, it must offer time-honored
programs that will always be of interest to students, but
also cutting-edge kinds of technology-based programs that
will attract students.
Raines says, are key to our success. "We must have superior
faculty who are devoted to making sure that our students learn,"
she says. "Their research should inform their teaching and
should lead to answering questions that matter in our society,
whether for the business world or for society in general.
I am very excited about the number of endowed Chairs of Excellence
we have and also the number of named programs - these are
indicators of a great deal of community support. Chairs of
Excellence build our reputation and help the University in
the recruitment of research opportunities and outstanding
our University to flourish, it must remain true to its mission
of teaching, research and service," she continues. "We have
to teach, research and provide service. We achieve our mission
by investing in people who have already accomplished a great
deal or through people who have those capacities that can
be developed in a supportive environment like the university."
emphasizes the importance of increasing the University's donor
base. "When we increase our donor base, we also increase the
number of people who feel they have an investment in the success
of the University," she says. "The more people who are engaged
with us, the greater the support."
Raines takes time from her busy schedule to visit the
new bookstore construction site
involvement is also important in the University's success
formula, notes Raines. "We must form community partnerships,
where we are the experts-on-tap. We must be experts who can
be tapped to work as partners, who also recognize the expertise
that already exists in the community. True partnerships flourish
when we are learners together.
reach out to our neighbors around the University, while finding
ways to connect to our global community. For some, the steps
from Orange Mound to the McWherter Library may feel as distant
as Memphis is to China."
says the most important component of the University is people.
"It is all about investing in people," she explains. Raines
points to a quote from Albert Schweitzer to illustrate her
point: "Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again
into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each
of us owesthe deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this
keeping the flame of higher education glowing at The University
of Memphis will be her passion.