Former UofM President Thomas G. Carpenter passes away 

January 12, 2021 - Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter, former University of Memphis President, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 6. He was 94. 

Carpenter became the 11th UofM President in 1980. He held the position for 11 years before retiring in 1991, and was succeeded by V. Lane Rawlins. The Thomas G. Carpenter Student Housing Complex, constructed on the UofM campus in 1990 between Central and Poplar Avenue, is named in his honor. 

“The entire University of Memphis community is saddened to learn of Dr. Carpenter’s passing,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “He had a remarkable career, making a positive impact on so many lives in the process. We are forever grateful for his contributions and dedication to helping make our University the place it is today. The UofM sends its deepest condolences to his family.” 

Carpenter graduated from then-Memphis State College in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in business. He earned a master’s degree in economics from Baylor University in 1950 and relocated to Florida in 1954 to begin what would be a nearly 40-year career in higher education. 

In 1964, Carpenter received a PhD from the University of Florida while also serving as an economics instructor and assistant director of housing at the school. He subsequently held positions at Florida Atlantic University and the University of West Florida.  

Carpenter was appointed by the Florida Board of Regents to become the founding president of the University of North Florida, assuming office August 1, 1969. According to the University of North Florida, Carpenter "gathered together a seasoned team of educators and administrators and personally directed the physical development of the UNF campus on 1,000 acres of virgin timberland and the academic organization of the university."  

The UNF library, the first of all campus buildings to be named, was officially named the Thomas G. Carpenter Library in 1981 to honor Dr. Carpenter for his long and faithful service. 

Chuck Gallina | 901.678.1756 | cgallina@memphis.edu