Arizona State associate dean to lead new Honors College

June 6, 2013  

Rhonda Phillips

Rhonda Phillips
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Rhonda Phillips, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College of Arizona State University, will be the dean of Purdue University's new Honors College.

"Dean Phillips will provide the leadership that will help the new college move forward, focusing on academic excellence and attracting high-achieving students," said Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. "She has the passion and vision that makes her well-suited to carry out our goal of providing a challenging and rewarding experience for Purdue's top students."

Phillips, who has been in her current position since 2011, also is a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State. She holds appointments as senior sustainability scientist in Arizona State's Global Institute of Sustainability/School of Sustainability, and affiliate faculty in the School of Geographical Sciences, Urban Planning and the School of Public Affairs.

Prior to going to Arizona State in 2007, she was an assistant and associate professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at the University of Florida, where she also was the founding director of the Center for Building Better Communities. Before that, she served as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Area Development at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Phillips' appointment as dean is the result of a national search. She will begin at Purdue before the fall semester. Her appointment is subject to ratification by Purdue's Board of Trustees.

"It is with tremendous pride and enthusiasm that I take on the leadership of the Honors College," Phillips said. "This is an exciting opportunity to continue to build an environment that enhances the success of the college's outstanding students."

The Honors College, approved by the trustees in 2011, will welcome its first class of more than 500 new students this fall. The college will recruit prospective honors students and provide them with residential learning experiences, exposure to cross-disciplinary problem solving and support in pursuit of post-graduate opportunities.

"The pool of finalists was an exceptional group of candidates, and we appreciate everyone who was involved in the process," said Mark J.T. Smith, dean of the Graduate School and search advisory committee chair. "Dean Phillips will be a great leader and advocate for Purdue's Honor College."

Dennis Savaiano, professor of nutrition science who is interim dean of the Honors College and headed a task force on its formation, will remain at Purdue.

"Dr. Savaiano provided strong and steady leadership during the formation of the Honors College," Sands said. "We are grateful for his hard work and service in this endeavor over the past three years."

Savaiano was dean of consumer and family sciences from 1995-2010. He has studied lactose intolerance for more than 25 years, identifying dietary factors that can promote adequate calcium intake for the 25 percent of the U.S. population and 75 percent of the world's population that suffer from the problem.

"Dean Savaiano will spend the next year studying nutrition and food policy, with the aim of developing a center that integrates disciplinary perspectives to inform policymakers on scientifically sound approaches to solving global nutrition problems including obesity and under-nutrition," Sands said.

Writer: Greg McClure, 7675-496-9711,

Sources: Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, 765-494-9709,

Mark Smith, 765-494-2604,

Rhonda Phillips, 602-496-0160,

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