Office of the President

On April 18, 2023, the Chatham University Board of Trustees named Purdue University Honors College Dean Dr. Rhonda Phillips as Chatham’s 20th president. Phillips is the 10th woman to hold the presidency in Chatham’s 154-year history. 

President Dr. Rhonda Phillips

presidental-announcement-r-phillips.jpgDr. Phillips has more than 30 years’ experience as an innovative academic administrator, scholar, and author. She joined Chatham following completion of her decade-long role as the inaugural Dean of the John Martinson Honors College at Purdue University, a pioneering 3,000 student residential honors college that under her leadership was named one of the Top 20 Honors College in the U.S.  

Prior to her role at Purdue, she was Associate Dean for Barrett, The Honors College, at Arizona State University, where she also served as professor and director of the School of Community Resources and Development, and Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. She has held faculty and administrator roles at the University of Florida and the University of Southern Mississippi, and prior to joining academia, Phillips worked as an economic developer with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and other nonprofit, private and public organizations.

“Enhancing student experiences is a passion for me and I am thrilled to lead the university that influenced Rachel Carson to shape new environmental standards while leaving a legacy that influenced my own and countless others’ work in sustainable development. I am also drawn to Chatham’s unique combination of strengths in the health sciences, sustainability, women’s leadership, and the liberal arts and sciences that produce students willing to respond to the opportunities and big challenges facing society today,” said Dr. Phillips.

Dr. Phillips has a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from Georgia Tech, holds a MS in Economics from Georgia Tech and a MS in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi where she also earned her bachelor’s degree. She is a three-time Fulbright recipient including serving as the 2006 Fulbright UK Ulster Policy Fellow in Northern Ireland. She is the author or editor of over 30 academic books, including the textbook, Introduction to Community Development, used by students and practitioners around the world. Dr. Phillips research focus is on community and sustainable well-being studies, economic and technology-based development, and on making the places we live better for all. She has a passion for the classroom and continued teaching at Purdue where she served as a Professor in the Agricultural Economics Department and faculty liaison with local food system development. Dr. Phillips will also be a member of Chatham’s teaching faculty when she begins her presidency.   

“Dr. Phillips was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees based in large part on her commitment to fostering inclusive and transformative learning environments and opportunities, which is a hallmark of the Chatham undergraduate experience,” said David M. Hall, Chair of Chatham University’s Board of Trustees. “Rhonda’s impressive experience and scholarship—coupled with her work in sustainable development, well-being and agriculture—is a perfect complement to the work of Chatham’s Falk School of Sustainability & Environment at Eden Hall Campus and make her the right leader to help continue Chatham’s historic, undergraduate growth since going all-gender in 2014.”

“Chatham is a place that fosters innovation, but it is also positioned within the highly creative, dynamic environment of Pittsburgh, which provides a living laboratory and countless partnership opportunities for students to enhance learning. I am excited to become part of the Chatham and Pittsburgh communities, and can’t wait to get started this summer,” said Dr. Phillips.


You can download copies of Dr. Phillip's CV and high-resolution headshot in the dropdown below.

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Office of the President
Chatham University
Mellon Center, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: 412-365-1160