Quaker physician and an advocate for the education of newly freed slaves and the promotion of rights for Native Americans, Dr. James E. Rhoads practiced medicine in Germantown after studying at the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital. He served on Haverford College's board of managers, and this brought him in contact with Joseph Wright Taylor, whose will made provision for a college for women. In accepting a position as a member of Bryn Mawr College’s first Board of Managers in 1880, Rhoads dedicated himself to realizing the vision of a women’s college that provided rigorous education at both undergraduate and graduate levels. As the college’s first president, Rhoads oversaw the selection of dedicated and experienced faculty to teach equally intelligent and committed students. He placed each department in the hands of a specialist, taught Christian Ethics, and supervised the construction of Taylor Hall and the college’s first residence halls. At his memorial service, M. Carey Thomas said about him, "He had no thought for self, but only for the cause he served."