Frank H. T. Rhodes

Frank H. T. Rhodes bigraphy, stories - Geologists

Frank H. T. Rhodes : biography

October 29, 1926 –

Frank Harold Trevor Rhodes (born October 29, 1926 was the ninth president of Cornell University from 1977 to 1995.


Rhodes’s impact on Cornell

During his tenure at president the percentage of minority students grew from 8 percent in 1977 to 28 percent in 1994. The number of women and minority members of the faculty more than doubled. In the final years of his presidency a successful capital campaign raised $1.5 billion.

In 1995 the building that houses what was then known as the Cornell Theory Center was named Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall.

Cornell also has a professorship honoring Rhodes; Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 University Professors are appointed to three-year terms. In 2011, the University also created new postgraduate student fellowships named after Rhodes to further scholarship and research in areas including poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and supporting the elderly and disadvantaged children.


Rhodes was born in Warwickshire, England on October 29, 1926. He attended the University of Birmingham, graduating in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He also holds three other degrees from Birmingham, including a Doctor of Philosophy which he received in 1950. He then went to the University of Illinois for a year as a Fulbright Scholar.

Rhodes taught geology at the University of Durham between 1951 and 1954. In 1954 he returned to the University of Illinois as an assistant professor and was named an associate professor in 1955. In 1956 he moved to the University of Wales, Swansea as head of the department of geology and in 1967 he was named dean of faculty of science. During this time Rhodes lectured at other institutions such as Cornell in 1960. In 1965 and 1966 he served as a visiting research fellow at the Ohio State University.

Rhodes joined the University of Michigan faculty as professor of geology and mineralogy in 1968. In 1971, was named dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Prior to assuming the presidency at Cornell he served for three years as vice president of academic affairs at Michigan.

Rhodes was elected the ninth President of Cornell University on February 16, 1977 and he assumed the office on August 1, 1977. He served until June 30, 1995. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving president in the Ivy League. He is a Professor Emeritus of Geology at Cornell.

In addition to his positions in academia, Rhodes has played a part in government. He 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.

Between 1984 and 2002 Rhodes served on the Board of Directors of General Electric.

Rhodes is a naturalized citizen of the United States, and is married to Rosa Carlson. The two still live in Ithaca.