U of M President Raines Announces Retirement

By Bill Dries

Shirley C. Raines is retiring at the end of June after 12 years as president of the University of Memphis.

Raines announced her retirement Monday, April 15. John Morgan, the chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, will name an interim president for the university possibly as early as this week for the transition.

Raines termed her 12-year tenure, “12 of the most enjoyable, challenging and professionally fulfilling years of my life.”

“The university has a strong foundation for the future, and I am confident in its academic and administrative leadership,” she added in a prepared statement.

Raines came to the Memphis position on July 1, 2001, from being vice chancellor for academic services and dean of the University of Kentucky’s college of education.

Her June 30 retirement date also marks the end of a $250 million capital campaign to build an endowment to attract faculty members who will further Raines’ central goal of orienting the university toward more research.

The building of the endowment was tied to last year’s 100th anniversary of the university’s founding.

Raines established the University of Memphis Research Foundation and doubled the number of sponsored research grants during her tenure. She was also a driving force behind the creation of the Memphis Research Consortium that brought together the city’s universities and colleges with research partners including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The university’s Systems Testing Excellence Program is the largest software testing group in the county.

The university’s school of public health became an independent academic unit in 2009.

In the last year, the university announced the Loewenburg School of Nursing will move to the Park Avenue campus as part of an expansion of the land at Park Avenue and Getwell Road.

The $60 million Community Health Building that will house the nursing school was one of the two biggest capital spending items in Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s state budget proposal in January. The building will also provide a new home for the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center, a center the university has been a part of since 1967.

In Raines’ 12 years, the physical look of the campus continued to change with a new University Center built where the old one dating back to the 1960s once stood.

As Raines leaves, the university is poised to expand west toward Highland Avenue making the avenue the new main entrance to the university. Raines shifted the university away from plans to eventually expand north to Poplar Avenue.

The move toward Highland is part of an overall development plan for the corridor that the university lent its support to early on. The support includes long-range plans for a new music school building along Highland Avenue.

Raines also moved to grow the number of students living on and around the campus with an overhaul of student housing on and near the campus. In campus residence halls, the university has moved to grouping students together based on their area of study.

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law moved during Raines’ tenure from the main campus to the old U.S. Customs House Downtown.

Raines became president of the university during a historic shift in higher education funding and evaluation at the state level.

As she leaves, the state’s colleges and universities are no longer evaluated by the state based on their enrollment but on how many students finish school and acquire degrees. Raines has also seen a shift away from state funding of higher education growth. In recent years, that growth in funding has depended more on tuition increases.