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Rhonda Phillips, Ph.D., FAICP

Inaugural Dean Emerita

Dean Phillips


B.S., Geography, University of Southern Mississippi
M.S., Economic Development, University of Southern Mississippi
M.S., Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ph.D., City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology


Current Courses 

Guided research on community development, well-being and happiness related topics.

Recent Publications

Weaver, C. G., Rabbitt, K.M., Summers, S.W., Phillips, R., Hottenstein, K.N. and Cole, J.M. (2022). Acute Crisis Leadership in Higher Education, Lessons from the Pandemic. London: Routledge.

Brennan, M., Phillips, R., Walzer, N. and Hales, B. (2022). Community Development for Times of Crisis, Creating Caring Communities. London: Routledge.

J. Martinez, C. A. Mikkelsen, and R. Phillips (eds.) (2021). Handbook of Quality of Life and Sustainability. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

L. Musikanski, R. Phillips, J. Bradbury, J. DeGraaf and C. Bliss. (2021). Happiness, Well-Being and Sustainability, A Course in Systems Change. London: Routledge.

R. Phillips, M. Brennan and X. Li (eds.) (2020). Culture, Community and Development. London: Routledge.

R. Phillips, E. Trevan and P. Kraeger (eds.) (2020). Research Handbook on Community Development. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

N. Walzer, R. Phillips and R. Blair (eds.) (2020). 50 Years of Community Development, A History of Its Evolution and Application in North America Volumes I and II. London: Routledge.


Awards / Accolades

U.S. Fulbright Commission Senior Specialist, Panama, 2015 – 2016

U.S. Fulbright Commission Senior Specialist, Panama, 2012

U.S. Fulbright Commission Scholar, Ulster Fellow, University of Ulster, School of Policy Studies, Northern Ireland, 2006• Honorary Member, British Fulbright Scholars Association, London, appointed 2006• 2021 Distinguished Quality-of-Life Researcher Award, International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies,

Core International Faculty Member in Community, Youth and Leadership Development, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),,-leadership-and-youth-development.html.

The Rhonda G. Phillips Endowed Track for the Promotion of Community Development and Well-Being, established 2017 with a permanent track, International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies,

2016 Distinguished Service Award, International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies



Rhonda Phillips is committed to value-added learning experiences, combining educational, research and engagement opportunities in experiential, transformative environments. She provides interdisciplinary teaching and research experience across a range of diverse topics, including economic and technology-based development, urban and regional planning, and well-being studies. Rhonda joined Purdue in 2013, the inaugural year of the Honors College, from Arizona State University where she was Associate Dean for Barrett, The Honors College.

In addition, Phillips served ASU as professor and director of the School of Community Resources and Development, and Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Previously, she established and ran the University of Florida’s Center for Building Better Communities. Returning home to the University of Southern Mississippi after graduating with a doctorate in city and regional planning from Georgia Tech (the first woman to do so), she served as director of the planning program. Her work in technology-based development and incubation led to her serving as USM’s faculty liaison to the Stennis NASA Space Center.


Phillips is a three-time Fulbright recipient, serving as a 2015-16 and 2012 Fulbright Specialist to Panama and as the 2006 Fulbright UK Ulster Policy Fellow in Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster. Recognition includes induction into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP), recipient of the 2012 International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies' Distinguished Research Fellow and the 2021 Distinguished Quality-of-Life Researcher Award, and selection as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for 2019-20. She is author or editor of over 30 academic books, including the textbook, Introduction to Community Development, used by students and practitioners around the globe.

Prior to joining the academy, Phillips worked as an economic developer with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and other nonprofit, private and public organizations. She held the professional designation of Certified Economic and Community Developer (CEcD) for 17 years and continues her passion for fostering local and regional development via applied research and engagement with her students and colleagues.

Contact Info

Contact the main office at (765) 494- 2929.

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