Shirley Raines of Oak Ridge has an amazing and inspiring story to tell.
Now president emeritus of the University of Memphis, she will describe her career and provide advice on leadership at the third in a series of Roane State Community College–Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Education Intergenerational Lectures.
Her talk begins at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 30, in the large lecture hall (Room 107) in the Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building on Roane State’s Oak Ridge campus at 701 Briarcliff Avenue. Raines will speak on “How a Kindergarten Teacher Became a University President.”
Born in Jackson in West Tennessee, she grew up on a cotton farm outside Bells, where she picked cotton by hand for the family business. She recalled that her mother was very smart and could have been a teacher or lawyer but lacked the opportunity to get a higher education.
Raines graduated second in a class of 23 students in high school. She obtained a degree in child development from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She taught children in kindergarten classes.
At UT-Knoxville, she earned an master’s degree in child development and an Ed.D. in education, curriculum, and instruction. She was the Head Start director for Knox County after earning her master’s degree. While earning her doctorate, she started the Community Child Center for Roane State Community College.
She taught education at various universities and accepted appointments as department head.
Raines applied successfully for the dean of the College of Education position at the University of Kentucky. After three years of service, she was asked to add the vice chancellor role to her position.
Then, in 2001, she became the 11th president of the University of Memphis, the first woman to hold the position. She retired from the position in 2013 and now works as a speaker and leadership trainer. Most college presidents serve for an average of six years, but Raines held her job for 12.
She was considered a people-oriented, goal-motivated chief executive officer in charge of approximately 2,500 personnel, from professors to research scientists to groundskeepers. Each year the University of Memphis enrolls approximately 23,000 students. Under her leadership, the university completed a highly successful building program and campus redesign.
She founded the University of Memphis Research Foundation and Memphis Research Consortium. During her tenure, sponsored research and grants grew by more than 100 percent.
She also focused on building internships for university students and was recognized as one of the top 10 in America for successful internship programs. Because of her effectiveness in university leadership, Raines served for six consecutive years as a faculty member for the Harvard Institute for New Presidents and Chancellors.
Raines was inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013, a tribute sponsored by the Tennessee Women’s Economic Development Council. She was invited by the Department of Commerce to speak at the White House Forum on “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University.”
Described in the Memphis newspaper “The Commercial Appeal” as “powerful, prepared, and personable,” she became known for her effective work in building productive partnerships with businesses, industry, and community leaders to grow local and regional economies. She chaired the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce, the first woman to hold that role.
Raines is a past president of the Association for Childhood Education International. She served on the selection committee for the National Teacher of the Year award.
The author of 14 books and numerous journal articles, she is widely regarded as an expert in teacher education and early childhood education.
In Oak Ridge, she is a member of the boards of directors of the Emory Valley Center and the Roane State Community College Foundation. She is married to retired professor, Robert J. Canady. She has one son, Brian, and two grandchildren, Riley and Bryson.