Honors College dean Phillips to serve as first dean for Honors College at Purdue University

Beginning this fall, Rhonda Phillips will serve as the inaugural dean for Purdue University’s Honors College. She has been the dean of Barrett, the Honors College on the Downtown campus since 2011. (Mauro Whiteman/DD)

Rhonda Phillips, associate dean of Barrett, the Honors College, on the Downtown campus, is leaving her position at ASU this fall to serve as the dean of Purdue University’s new Honors College.

Phillips, who had been in her position since 2011, said that although there have been students in honors programs at Purdue in the past, she will be serving as the inaugural dean. The first entering class will have about 600 students, she said.

“It’s a start-up enterprise and it will be building on some of the wonderful honors programming that’s already there, but again it is a new college and so all the excitement and the challenges of being part of a new college will be there,” Phillips said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a great experience.”

Phillips said some of her biggest tasks will involve developing programming and curricula for the new students and ensuring that the honors program has enough residential, classroom and administrative space.

“It will be a larger enterprise to oversee,” Phillips said. “There will be more details, more students and more programming. I like to think of honors as value-added services for exceptional students, so that will be my mission — to ensure that they all have a high-caliber, quality experience.”

During her time on the Downtown campus, Phillips helped develop the presence of Barrett both in the urban setting and throughout ASU as a whole. The number of students enrolled in Barrett has doubled, Phillips said, and they’ve increased their staff to include five members, the associate dean, and two full-time faculty members.

“The transformation of the Downtown campus overall and the role that Barrett has played in it has been very rewarding for me to be a part of,” Phillips said. “It’s been a great experience to watch what’s happening here … I’ve been amazed by the accomplishments, the drive and the desire to learn and to go beyond expectations.”

One of Phillips’s main accomplishments as associate dean was expanding the variety of honors courses offered on the Downtown campus. She created, developed and taught several classes that drew students from multiple majors.

Journalism junior Brett Nachman took Phillips’s ‘Happiness in Society’ course. He also worked with her on a faculty hiring committee and the dean’s advisory council.

“It was more than just a lecture class,” Nachman said. “She focuses on students getting the most out of their experience. She loves to learn … and I’m happy for future students who get to learn and work alongside her.”

Health sciences (pre-professional) senior Andrian McGhee took Phillips’s ‘Food, the Social Economy and Community Development’ course. She said the class was one of her favorites and that Phillips encouraged her to add a nutrition minor.

“She is passionate about what she teaches, and that made learning from her that much more fun,” McGhee said.

Phillips said that while her job at Purdue is more administrative, she will continue to teach at least one class per year.

Barrett Downtown Program Manager Jill Johnson said Purdue is lucky to have Phillips, whom she described as “supportive, positive, happy and an amazing professor.”

Johnson said the new associate dean will continue Phillips’s work in increasing Barrett’s presence on the Downtown campus.

“We’ve become more and more prolific downtown,” Johnson said. “It’s enabling us to be prominent in all areas of ASU: service, social events, leadership and, of course, excellent education.”

Phillips’s replacement has not yet been chosen, Nicole Greason, the public relations manager for Barrett, said in an email. Greason said a timeline has not yet been established for selecting the new associate dean.

Editor’s note: Kimberly Koerth is enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College on the Downtown campus.

Contact the reporter at kimberly.koerth@asu.edu