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Elizabeth Rhodes, Retired Director of Kent State School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, Passed Away July 23 (07/24/2009)

Kent State University officials announced today that Dr. Elizabeth Rhodes, retired directorElizabeth Rhodes of the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, passed away July 23. Rhodes had been battling more than one type of cancer since 1994, the same year she accepted the job as the director of the school.

“Elizabeth Rhodes embodied the characteristics that speak to Kent State’s excellence, “says Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton. “Throughout her tenure, and while she battled cancer on the home front, she demonstrated unfaltering commitment to and pride in the success of her students, not to mention the national and international repute of the Fashion School and the university. Kent State now has a studio in the heart of the fashion district in New York City, thanks in large part to her efforts, as well as a program in Florence, Italy, where our fashion students learn from top designers in the industry. And as a result, we now have alumni who are top designers in the industry. Elizabeth will be sorely missed, especially by students, alumni and faculty of the school that was so enriched by her talent and dedication.”

During her time as director, the Fashion School more than tripled in enrollment, launched initiatives with JCPenney, Sears, Simplicity, Dots and Jo-Ann Fabrics, and formed collaborations with the Paris-American Academy and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In addition, Rhodes helped to create the June F. Mohler Fashion Library, raise millions of dollars for the Fashion School and implement a more rigorous and technologically advanced education for fashion students.

Rhodes, 62, retired in June after 15 years at the university.

“The College of the Arts has lost a respected colleague and dear friend,” Dr. John Crawford, interim dean for the College of the Arts, says. “Her strength, vision and commitment will continue to inspire all of us who knew her.”

The family will hold a service in the atrium of Rockwell Hall on July 27 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for anyone who would like to attend. In place of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to the Elizabeth A. Rhodes Legacy Campaign. The fund supports, in part, the New York City Studio and other projects of the school. To make a contribution, contact  Shawn Gordon at 330-672-8484 or  


This page was last modified on September 8, 2009