As Women's History Month comes to a close, it is important to reflect on the strong female characters that have played major roles in history.
Locally, it immediately suggests a few names, but none more so than recently retired University of Memphis President Shirley Raines. Though her tenure was very recent, it will continue to hold historic significance not only for its precedence of her being the first female president of the school, but also for the work that she accomplished while holding the chair.
“President Raines has made an indelible mark on the university and the entire Memphis community,” chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents John Morgan said. "She is a friend, and I appreciate the guidance and leadership she has provided for these 12 years.”
Raines began her career as a kindergarten teacher in Louisville, Ky. Over the next 30 years of her career, she would go on to write 14 books, most of which had a focus on child education and early development—a subject she has come to be regarded as an expert in according to a University of Memphis website post regarding Raines' retirement.
As the millennium passed she had built her career past teaching, holding a position as the vice chancellor for academic services and dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky.
During her tenure, she was noted for benchmark application rates, obtaining record numbers in research grants, and the ability to build connections with important people, according to articles from The Commercial Appeal.
“The alliances she has made and-or nurtured with FedEx and other companies and high-net worth families and individuals will benefit the university for decades,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) said.
More than just an elbow rubber, Raines also had several projects she championed that saw success under her lead. Under her guidance, Raines saw the move of the Cecil B. Humphry's School of Law from the U of M main campus to downtown Memphis. She also cultivated the Helen Hardin Honors Program, which upon her exit laid claim to 10 percent of students.
Her mark is documented anywhere from news articles in The Commercial Appeal to the twittersphere where students and faculty alike tweeted opinions of her tenure upon her departure.
"In my short time here I have come to know and respect President Shirley Raines as a great advocate for athletics & leader for this University," tweeted Tyler Mariucci, former assistant athletic director for Major Gifts.
Raines actions and accomplishments are extensive and cover everything from academics to sports. The former president of the University of Memphis will be remember as an important woman in university district's history for years to come.