UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS — Dr. Shirley Raines, The University of Memphis’ 11th and first female president, officially took over the school’s top post Monday, saying she’d been awaiting the day for months.
“I woke up this morning and said ‘It is finally here,'” said Raines, who was named president Jan. 31.
Raines said her first day was filled with unexpected meetings concerning the Tennessee budget crisis. However, she said, The U of M will survive the budget situation, just as the state has done in the past.
“We must keep the faith,” Raines said. “We will keep on going. I hope the legislature will return to Nashville and create a budget that will generate the revenue the governor has asked for. There are a lot of people in the legislature that care about the quality of education. I hope they will prevail and come up with a plan that generates the money we need.”
However, Raines said, if the state keeps a continuation budget, she hopes The U of M can manage the budget effectively.
“We will be as frugal as we have to be,” she said, “but we will protect the students and their needs.”
Raines said she wants U of M students, faculty and staff to understand that University officials are working diligently on the budget issue.
“I want the students to know, regardless of what they read in the newspaper about the budget continuation,” Raines said. “we are going to do everything we can to get them the classes they need.”
“We value the work and contribution of the faculty. We will let the legislature and others know about the importance of their work. Without our faculty, we cannot prepare our students.
“I want the staff to know how much I appreciate them putting the students first. My sense is that the staff has their priorities right.”
Despite a hectic schedule Monday, Raines took the time to meet and visit with students, faculty and staff. She said she visited each office on the third floor and most offices on the second floor of the Administration Building. She also said her day was filled with several “neat discoveries.”
“I am surprised at how hot 95 degrees is in Memphis,” Raines said. “I was also pleased to see the beautiful crepe myrtles out front. I also enjoyed getting to see the students coming in for advice and questions about admissions.”
Raines said there is an “amazing sense of goodwill” present on The U of M campus.
“I know I wasn’t in every office this morning,” she said, “but there is certainly a sense out there that people are working hard to do their jobs.”
Raines said she wants to learn more about programs and special initiatives on The U of M campus. A deeper knowledge of these things will help her work with donors and help them understand how they might be able to contribute to the University, she said.
“In the process of learning about the programs, I will meet students,” she said.
“In the process of learning about the programs I will understand the faculty and what they are doing better.
All of those will fit together as a combination.”