Pictured above: As part of the 2018 first-year student induction ceremony, Rhodes welcomes students from 11 countries, 27 states and 91 Kentucky counties.
If you are a member of the MSU community, there’s a good chance you’ve met or seen Tim Rhodes (76). He will be sitting in the front row at basketball games chatting with friends, students and alumni. He will be at Jayne Stadium watching the Eagles hit the gridiron as a season ticket holder. You may end up running into Rhodes before the game even starts as he tailgates every home game serving up a few specialties.
“Deep fried turkey. As soon as I pull them out, they’re gone in five minutes,” Rhodes said with a hint of pride. “The deep-fried turkey and smoked tenderloin both disappear immediately.”
Simply put, Rhodes is a people person. More specifically, Rhodes is a helping-people person. The nature of Rhodes’ role as assistant vice president for enrollment services means he is interacting with people all the time as both students and their families try to navigate the next step in furthering their education, achieving success and, ultimately, bettering their lives.
Rhodes found his career home at MSU, where he’s taken on several roles over nearly four decades. Originally from Frenchburg, Rhodes was the first person in his family to graduate college, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1976 and a Master of Business Administration in 1986. He came to MSU in 1970 and got his first job on campus in 1972 as a work study in the former supply office located in the basement of what is now Grote-Thompson Hall before working as the head cashier in Howell-McDowell, often alternating between working and attending school full-time as a student.
“I crammed four years of school into six,” he said, laughing.
After graduation, Rhodes held many positions in his 38 years with MSU. He was a loan officer, bursar, director of financial aid and eventually found himself working in admissions and housing under President Dr. A.D. Albright for the Office of Student Services, which later became the Office of Enrollment Services. No matter what Rhodes did for MSU, he never saw the institution as simply a place of work.
“In my generation, the University was our life.– Tim Rhodes
It wasn’t just a job.”
Despite his affection for MSU, Rhodes eventually retired as the assistant vice president for enrollment services. That was in 2002. That was his first retirement from MSU.
During his retirement, he devoted more time to another calling he said he had while working for MSU: serving as pastor for Elliottville Baptist Church near Morehead, a position he had held since 1992. It was familiar territory since both his father, Joseph Rhodes Jr., and his grandfather, Joseph Rhodes Sr., were pastors.
In 2010, MSU President Dr. Wayne D. Andrews called Rhodes to see if he would return to MSU. Rhodes first came back to MSU as a liaison for school and alumni relations for five years and helped establish the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, recruiting their first class, before returning to his former role as assistant vice president for enrollment services in 2015.
Keith Kappes (70), retired vice president for university relations at MSU, worked with Rhodes for nearly three decades and considers him “a master recruiter of students” largely to due to his enthusiasm and genuine love of the institution.
“I think the same skill set that makes him effective at that job makes him an effective minister. He comes across as very sincere, very open, a guy you’d buy a used car from,” Kappes said. “There’s an element of trust there.”
Sanford Holbrook (97) is the superintendent of Robertson County Public Schools and serves on the Board of Regents for MSU. As a proud supporter of his alma mater, he was disheartened to learn how few of his county’s students were choosing to attend college at MSU. He said that now, more and more of his students are choosing to attend MSU and he thinks it’s due to Rhodes’ recruitment visits to his schools and how he interacts with students.
“It really gives students a great feeling to meet Tim,” he said. “I think it’s just Tim’s persona. The way he does his job. I think that’s just the big thing, just his personality and the way he wants to help you make a better life for yourself.”
The number of Robertson County students coming to MSU isn’t the only number that has increased. Rhodes himself now can’t claim to be the only college graduate in his family. His wife, Stephanie (92), a teacher at Menifee County Elementary School, and his sons Mark (09) and Paul (07) are all MSU alumni. Mark is the administrative director of SCMG Specialty Practices at St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead and Paul currently serves as the ticket and facilities manager for MSU Athletics.
Paul remembers that even when he wasn’t playing on the Eagle Baseball team in college, the amount of time he spent on campus and attending University events with his father as a kid made him want to make a career centered around MSU.
“Being around the University so much growing up and seeing the pride that my father and others had in the University, it instilled in me a love for Morehead State,” Paul said.
It looks like the number of family members is only likely to increase. In addition to his brother, two daughters-in-law, nieces, nephews and others that make up the 20 total MSU alumni in his family. He gives MSU merchandise and gifts to his grandchildren around the holidays to help instill Eagle pride in future generations.
Rhodes continues to serve as a pastor when he isn’t at MSU. He is currently the pastor for Bethel Baptist Church in his hometown of Frenchburg. Whether he is preaching to a congregation or assisting students and parents with scholarships or financial aid, Rhodes knows he is in the right place if he is taking care of people to get them to a better place than they were before. With all that he’s given the University, he said it’s given way more back to him.
“It’s probably after the fact when somebody comes up to me and says, you’re the reason I graduated, you’re the reason I came to Morehead State,” he said. “When you hear that, that’s why you do what you do and work with people, not just things. This job, you get to impact the lives of people.”