|Established||November 4, 1885|
|Endowment||$372.5 million (2014)|
|Address||1000 Holt Avenue Winter Park, FL, Winter Park, Florida, U.S.|
|Campus||Suburban, 80 acres (32 ha)|
Rollins College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Winter Park, Florida along the shores of Lake Virginia. Rollins is a member of the SACS, NASM, ACS, FDE, AAM, AACSB International, Council for Accreditation of Counseling, and Related Educational Programs.
- 1 History
- 2 Campus
- 2.1 Pugsley Hall & Mayflower Hall
- 2.2 Chase Hall
- 2.3 Cross Hall
- 2.4 Hooker Hall
- 2.5 Pinehurst Cottage
- 2.6 Alfond Boathouse
- 2.7 Peace Monument
- 2.8 Winter Park Institute
- 2.9 Olin Library
- 2.10 Archibald Granville Bush Science Center
- 2.11 Cornell Fine Arts Museum
- 2.12 Annie Russell Theatre
- 2.13 Knowles Memorial Chapel
- 2.14 Walk of Fame
- 3 Academics
- 4 Rankings
- 5 Athletics
- 6 Campus life
- 7 Controversies
- 8 Notable alumni
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Rollins College is Florida's oldest post-secondary institution, and has been independent, nonsectarian, and coeducational from conception. Lucy Cross, founder of the Daytona Institute in 1880, first placed the matter of establishing a college in Florida before the Congregational Churches in 1884. In 1885, the Church put her on the committee in charge of determining the location of the first college in Florida. Cross is known as the "Mother of Rollins College."  Rollins was incorporated, organized, and named in the Lyman Park building in nearby Sanford, Florida on 28 April 1885, opening for classes in Winter Park on November 4 of that year. It was established by New England Congregationalists who sought to bring their style of liberal arts education to the frontier St. John's basin. A commemorative plaque listing the names of the founders was dedicated 1 March 1954 and is displayed in historic Downtown Sanford.
Early benefactors of Rollins College included Chicago businessman Alonzo Rollins (1832-1887), for whom the college is named. Rollins made substantial donations to enable the founding of the college, and was a trustee and its first treasurer.
Another early benefactor was Franklin Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Fairbanks was President of the family business, Fairbanks Scales, and was a founder of Winter Park, a donor to Rollins College and a trustee.
In March of 1936 during a visit to Central Florida, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was conferred an honorary degree in literature at the Knowles Chapel on campus. Other U.S. Presidents who have visited the campus include Calvin Coolidge (1930), Harry Truman (1949), Ronald Reagan (1976; prior to his 1980 election), and Barack Obama (2012)
Pugsley Hall & Mayflower Hall
In 1930, President Holt announced the gifts of Cornelius Pugsley and an anonymous donor for the construction of two women's dormitories. Pugsley and Mayflower Halls were dedicated in 1931. Mayflower Hall received its name from the Pilgrim ship. The Society of Friends at Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, gave Rollins a 16-inch section of beam from the ship, which, it had been discovered, had been salvaged to build a haybarn in England. The block of wood was placed above the fireplace in Mayflower Hall. The brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity moved into Pugsley Hall in 1997 and have occupied it all but 1 academic year since. In the 1990s, there were rows of shrubbery on either side of the sidewalk leading up to Pugsley Hall, which sits at the end of Park Avenue. Today, there are palm trees showcasing the majesty of the building and welcoming students and visitors to the campus.
Chase Hall was built in 1908. It was first used as a men's dormitory until 1966. From 1966 until 1999 it was used by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, followed by the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. The Lucy Cross Center for Women and Their Allies was established in 2010 at Rollins College in Chase Hall, Room 205. The Center is named after Lucy Cross, the "Mother of Rollins College" (see above).
Hooker Hall was named after, the first President of Rollins College, Dr. Edward Payson Hooker (1838-1904). The building was originally used as housing for the Theta Kappa Nu fraternity then, in 1939, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity moved in. Hooker was a Chi Psi at Middlebury College (Mu '54) and played an integral part in bringing the Chi Psi chapter, Alpha Mu Delta, to Rollins in 1977. Today, Hooker Hall is home to the Chi Psi fraternity, and is known to many faculty and students as The Chi Psi Lodge.
The Rollins College website states that Pinehurst Cottage and Knowles I, the two structures established when the college founded, suffered a fire in 1909 which destroyed Knowles Hall and scorched Pinehurst's exterior. Pinehurst, originally a women's residence hall, over the years transformed into a men's dormitory, co-ed dormitory, the home of President Ward, a Library, chemistry lab, infirmary and then classroom. In November 1985, Pinehurst received Winter Park's Historic Preservation Commission's Historic Landmark award. The college renovated to maintain the building's original appearance. Today, Pinehurst is a co-ed residence hall that houses a special interest group which promotes academic fulfillment outside the class room.
Built in 1988 to fulfill the Rollins College waterski and sailing team needs. The Alfond Boathouse sits on lake Virginia and has a total of 3 offices used by the waterski and sailing coaches, as well as a classroom, boat bay and observation deck. The exterior was renovated in 2016.
Erected in 1938 and dedicated on Armistice Day by college president Hamilton Holt, it consists of a German artillery shell, surrendered by Germany at the end of the First World War, mounted on a pedestal, bearing this inscription:
- Pause, passerby and hang your head in shame
- This Engine of Destruction, Torture and Death Symbolizes:
- The Prostitution of the Inventor
- The Avarice of the Manufacturer
- The Blood-guilt of the statesman
- The Savagery of the Soldier
- The Perverted Patriotism of the Citizen
- The Debasement of the Human Race
- That it can be Employed as an Instrument of Defense of Liberty, Justice and Right in Nowise Invalidates the Truth of the Words Here Graven.
The top half of the monument was stolen by vandals during World War II, but the plaque from the bottom half survives and is in the stairwell leading to the second floor of the Mills Memorial building.
Winter Park Institute
The Winter Park Institute, located in the Osceola Lodge on Interlachen Avenue, brings scholars, leaders, and artists from diverse fields of disciplines and expertise to the Rollins campus for symposiums, seminars, lectures, interviews, exhibits, readings, and master classes that are always free and open to the public. Following the legacy began by President Hamilton Holt and continued by President Hugh McKean, the Institute launched in the fall of 2008, the first guest being U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, who has returned every year since. Other guests include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ken Burns, Gloria Steinem, Jane Goodall, Paul Simon, Itzhak Perlman, Nicholas Kristoff, Sheryl Wu Dunn, Jane Pauley, and most recently, Sir Paul McCartney.
Rollins' Olin Library was dedicated in 1985, with a US$4.7 million grant from the F.W. Olin Foundation ($10.8 million today). It is four stories high, with 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2) containing thousands of volumes, periodicals, serials, electronic resources, a number of special collections, and hundreds of compact discs, DVDs, and videotapes. From 1909 until 2011, the library was a federal government documents repository. Olin still provides access to hundreds of online government resources. Olin Library was one of three recipients of the 2013 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award.
Olin Electronic Research and Information Center
The Olin Electronic Research and Information Center was also established in 1998 with a second gift of US$2.7 million from the F.W. Olin Foundation ($4.03 million today). The center features the latest technology, including computer stations, color printers, scanners, audio and video digitizers, compact discs, videodiscs, and videotapes. These tools facilitate creativity as students pursue research questions, prepare multimedia presentations, and create Web pages.
Origins as a "Carnegie Library"
Olin Libraries' collection is one of the oldest and most extensive in Central Florida, dating back (1909-1951) to its Carnegie Library founding as one of the original 14 Florida libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie. According to Cohen (2006), Carnegie's "donation of 108 libraries to colleges in the first two decades of the twentieth century assisted 10% of the institutions of higher learning in the United States. Carnegie had a preference for colleges and universities that served African-American students, which Rollins College president William Fremont Blackman noted the school did in a letter to Carnegie appealing for a library in 1904:
|“||The fact that it is the only college in the country, North or South, in which the grandchildren of abolitionists and confederate soldiers, in about equal numbers, sit together in the same class-room and play together on the same athletic field, and learn thus to understand, respect and love one another;||”|
Blackman's request consisted of $35,000 in total ($932,944 today): "$20,000 for a fireproof building, $3,000 for books, and $12,000 as an endowment for the continued purchase of books" ($533,111, $79,967 and $319,867 today respectively). Blackman received a response from Carnegie's secretary James Bertram that noted the request was too general for consideration, and that Carnegie would need a profile of the university before consideration. Little progress was made for over a year, when Blackman again wrote to Carnegie, noting the university's need for a library. Trustees and friends of the university wrote to Carnegie on Blackman's behalf, including W.W. Cummer, a trustee from Jacksonville who served on the board of the city's new Carnegie Library. A letter dated 22 June 1905 and written from Carnegie's home in Scotland brought the welcome news of the offer of a library. Carnegie offered $20,000 ($533,111 today) for the construction of a library provided that the same amount would be raised for the library's upkeep. While grateful for Carnegie's proposal, Blackman was uneasy with its terms because the amount of funding required to match Carnegie's offer would put a strain on those who had donated to start the college's endowment fund of $200,000 as well as paid a debt of $30,000 ($6.13 million combined today). In correspondence to Bertram dated July 11, 1905 Blackman wrote (according to Cohen):
|“||Our college is in the poorest of States [Florida], remote from all centers of wealth and population, and our friends have strained themselves to the uttermost, in the effort to raise $230,000 in two years ($6.13 million today). I am by no means sure that we can meet Mr. Carnegie's conditions.||”|
In a January 1906 letter Blackman wrote to Carnegie expressing concern about meeting the conditions for the gift, noting that the college had a large debt that took "considerable self-sacrifice on the part of our friends." That summer, another Florida college, Stetson University, was awarded $40,000 ($1,066,222 today) for a library from Carnegie. Upon learning this Blackman again wrote to Carnegie, seeking to amend the original terms of the agreement to match the amount that Stetson was awarded. He was turned down, but a year later was able to notify Carnegie that the school's trustees had been able to match the $20,000 necessary for the gift to be awarded. Bertram wrote to Blackman to inform him that Carnegie had "authorized his Cashier…to arrange payments on Library Building, as work progresses, to the extent of Twenty Thousand Dollars." ($591,182 today) The library, to be named Carnegie Hall, was dedicated on February 18, 1909.
The building had over 8,000 square feet of space, and was the school's first dedicated library building. It served as a library from 1909 until 1951. In addition to its function as a library, Carnegie Hall also served as the school's post office. Since the library was moved from Carnegie to the newly built Mills Memorial Library, it has also housed a bookstore, admissions office, faculty offices, and human resources office.
Archibald Granville Bush Science Center
The Bush Science Center at Rollins has state of the art SMART classrooms, faculty offices, and 38 teaching and research laboratories for the physical and behavioral sciences, mathematics, and computer science. The science center is where Donald J. Cram launched his chemical studies, becoming the 1987 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. Construction of the redesign of the Archibald Granville Bush Science Center began in the spring of 2012 and was completed prior to the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. The science center, which has 103,580 square feet and cost $30 million to upgrade ($31.9 million today), is now the largest building at Rollins. It has three floors and includes 51 offices, 15 classrooms, 15 teaching labs, 19 research labs and 18 student/faculty lounges.
Cornell Fine Arts Museum
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is located on school grounds and contains works of art and objects from antiquity to the 21st century. The museum was built instead of what would have been the Ackland Art Museum at Rollins; millionaire and amateur art collector William Hayes Ackland (1855-1940) wanted to leave his fortune to a Southern university for an art museum and narrowed his choices to Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Rollins, in that order. After Ackland's death, Duke refused the request, and UNC and Rollins, excised from Ackland's final will, both brought suit to locate Ackland's museum on their campuses. In a case that went to the United States Supreme Court, Ackland's trustees sided with UNC, but a lower court ruled for Rollins; a higher court finally granted the bequest to UNC. Rollins was represented in the case by former U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings.
Annie Russell Theatre
The Annie Russell Theatre is a historic theater in Winter Park, Florida, located on the premises of Rollins College. The theatre was named after the English-born actress Annie Russell in 1931, who taught at Rollins until she died of lung disease in 1936. It was designed by the architect Richard Kiehnel of Kiehnel and Elliott. In October 1998, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Knowles Memorial Chapel
Ground was broken for the chapel on March 9, 1931 and the cornerstone was laid on May 12 of the same year. The dedication service for the chapel took place just a year later on March 29, 1932.Rollins has no religious affiliation, so the chapel is interdenominational. A Protestant services is held on Sunday mornings, and Catholic Mass is held on Sunday evenings.
Walk of Fame
The Rollins Walk of Fame, which circles Mills lawn, consists of more than 200 stones taken from places connected to historic people. Past college president Hamilton Holt came up with the idea in the 1920s, and based the Walk of Fame on the "ancestral walk" at his home in Connecticut. The idea, Holt wrote, was "unique in conception and execution."
Holt officially dedicated the Walk of Fame in October 1929, originally calling it the Memorial Path of Fame. Holt presented 22 stones, including stones from the homes of American luminaries George Washington, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Daniel Webster, Calvin Coolidge, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Early additions to the Walk of Fame were predominantly American, but later additions would include stones from places associated with internationally famous figures as diverse as St. Augustine, Emperor Humayun, and William Wordsworth. By 1932 the Walk of Fame had over 200 stones, many of which Holt himself had brought back to campus: the Charles Dickens stone he had picked up while visiting Gad's Hill, and he claimed that the Mohammed stone was brought back from Mecca by a student's sister, "at the risk of fine and imprisonment."
After Holt retired as president of the college in 1949, there no longer existed a central authority for the Walk of Fame, and over the next two decades stones began to disappear, often around graduation time; many were thrown into Lake Virginia. Only in the 1980s, under the presidency of Thaddeus Seymour (president from 1978–90), was there an Official Lapidarian responsible for taking care of the stones. As of 2003, the Walk of Fame had about 530 stones, the vast majority (455) honoring men. Most stones are associated with specific people, but a few—like the stones from Australia and the Berlin Wall—honor places or events.
Rollins has four divisions that offer a variety of programs: College of Arts and Sciences; College of Professional Studies; Crummer Graduate School of Business; and Hamilton Holt School.
US News states that undergraduates at Rollins can choose from about 30 majors, ranging from Latin American and Caribbean studies to computer science and biochemistry to theatre arts and dance. In addition to its undergraduate programs, Rollins offers an M.B.A. program through the Crummer Graduate School of Business. Other graduate degrees granted include a Master of Arts in teaching, Master of Education in elementary education, Master of Human Resources, and Master of Liberal Studies. The "Walk of Fame" at Rollins is lined with stones from the homes of legendary historical figures: Maya Angelou, Confucius, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few.
In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rollins for the ninth consecutive year as the number one university in the South, in the category of "Regional Universities (South)." Rollins had held the number two spot on the list since 1995.
For 3 straight years (2010-2012) Rollins College has also been ranked as one of the best in the nation in both academic and athletic standards according to the NCSA Collegiate Power Rankings including the most recent 2012 ranking of 2nd best in Division II and 15th best overall. The 2010 rankings placed Rollins 13th in Division II and 2011 3rd best in division II, while 37th overall.
The college has also been named one of the top national producers of Fulbright Scholars among Masters granting institutions throughout the U.S. Since inception of the scholarship in 1951, 42 Tars have been awarded the prestigious honor.
College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Professional Studies have a total of 1,884 students and a student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1. Ninety-two percent of the faculty possess a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field. The College offers twenty-eight undergraduate majors and a variety of interdisciplinary programs that allow students to design their own courses of study.
Like many liberal arts programs, the College of Arts & Sciences operates on the philosophy that students should receive a well-rounded education regardless of their chosen specialty. As such, completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree requires the 140 credits required for graduation to be approximately evenly derived from general education courses, major/minor courses, and elective courses.
Classes in the College of Arts and Sciences are typically worth four credits, in contrast to the traditional 3 credits per class structure of many American Universities. The college also requires 140 credit hours to graduate instead of the traditional 120.
Crummer Graduate School of Business
- The Early Advantage MBA Program is a full-time day program designed for recent college graduates with little to no work experience. Students can complete the program within 16 to 21 months.
- The Professional MBA Program is a 24-27-month program designed for students with a wide range of educational and professional experience that mirrors what you find in the workplace.
- The Executive MBA Program is an intense, comprehensive program that can accelerate your career within 15 months. It has been designed for mid-to senior-level professionals who prefer a blend of online and Saturday classes.
Each program is designed to lay the foundation for students to accelerate their career goals, gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and advance in their organizations. Rollins MBA graduates are prepared for the challenges of a competitive global economy through international study opportunities, and all students and alumni have access to career development services. Rollins MBA alumni have access to events, networking opportunities, free MBA classes, and career services for life, as well as discounts on professional development courses offered through Rollins’ Management and Executive Education Center.
The Rollins MBA programs are listed in several national rankings of business schools, including:
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek: #1 in Florida, 9th in the Nation for Part-time MBA (2013)
- Forbes: #1 in Florida, 46th in the Nation (2011)
- U.S. News & World Report: #82 for in the Nation for Part-time MBA; #107 for Full-time MBA (2012 edition)
- Leadership Excellence: #1 in Florida, 23rd in the Nation (2011)
The Princeton Review features the Rollins MBA in its 2012 edition of "The Best 294 Business Schools" (2012 edition). The Rollins MBA is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Hamilton Holt School
Adult education courses at Rollins were initially only offered to returning World War II veterans. On September 7, 1960, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Rollins College gave formal authorization for the Institute for General Studies to award degrees upon completion of program requirements. On November 6, 1987, the school's name was changed to Hamilton Holt School, in honor of Rollins’ eighth president.
The Hamilton Holt School offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in a variety of majors as well as several graduate degrees. Like the College of Arts & Sciences, the undergraduate program at the Hamilton Holt School requires a combination of general education courses, major/minor courses, and electives. Unlike its residential counterpart, however, the Hamilton Holt School's focus is on the non-traditional student, identified as a working individual seeking professional advancement and therefore schedules most courses in the evenings and on weekends. Students enrolled in the Hamilton Holt School pay tuition per credit hour and are not eligible for on-campus housing, although surrounding communities offer off-campus housing specifically for Rollins students. The tuition at Hamilton Holt is $576 per credit hour or $1,728 per course. The Hamilton Holt School requires 140 hours to graduate and will also transfer up to 64 credit hours or equivalent to an A.A. degree from a 2-year community college. Students can also transfer in courses from 4 year colleges and universities. In addition, the program allows for students to register for the course load suitable to their schedule during any of the Hamilton Holt School's three semester terms (Fall, Spring, Summer). Taking smaller course loads will extend the students completion date.
Graduate programs offered through the Hamilton Holt School include:
- Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education (for new uncertified graduates)
- Master of Education in Elementary Education (for established certified teachers)
- Master of Human Resources
- Master of Liberal Studies
- Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism
Rollins also has four special programs:
- The Rollins College Conference
- Honors Degree Program
- Accelerated Management Program
- International program
- 3/2 Cooperative Engineering Program
Rollins College Conference (RCC)
The Rollins College Conference, taken in the first semester of a student's freshman year, is required of all non-transfer students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The course serves as both an orientation course and a topic course in a student's area of interest. The professor for this course will serve as the enrolled students' academic advisor until they select a major and choose a new advisor from the corresponding department. One or two peer mentors (upperclassmen with special training) join the course and offer counseling and support to the new students.
Honors Degree Program
The Honors Degree Program allows the top students in each entering class of the College of Arts and Sciences to complete a series of special interdisciplinary seminars, which replace approximately two-thirds of the school's general education requirements. To earn an honors degree, students must also complete a thesis in their major field during their junior and senior years.
Accelerated Management Program (AMP)
The Accelerated Management Program allows selected students to earn both a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences and an MBA from the Crummer Graduate School of Business in a total of five years. Students enrolled in this program must complete all general education and major/minor requirements prior to the conclusion of their third year. In their fourth year, students take courses from the Early Advantage MBA program, from which credits are applied to both their undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Upon completion of the fourth year, AMP students graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and walk with their class at commencement. In the fifth year, students complete the MBA degree and graduate a second time.
All three schools at Rollins offer international courses to destinations such as London, Sydney, and Madrid, among others. Some programs are offered directly through Rollins, while others are offered through partnerships with other colleges and universities. Students may study abroad for a week or an entire semester.
Rollins participates in NCAA Division II's Sunshine State Conference for the majority of its sports; the College's women's lacrosse program competes as a DII independent program. The rowing teams compete in the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association and Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association while the sailing squad competes in the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Rollins' athletic teams are called the Tars (an archaic name for a sailor). Rollins' Athletic Tradition includes 23 National Championships and 67 Sunshine State Conference titles. The school sponsors twenty-three varsity teams: The most successful sport in the history of Rollins is Women's Golf. They have 13 national championship titles. In 1950 and 1956, Betty Rowland and Marlene Stewart, respectively, won the women's individual intercollegiate golf championship (an event conducted by the Division of Girls' and Women's Sports (DGWS) — which later evolved into the current NCAA women's golf championship). In later years, Bettina Walker (1988, 1989), Debbie Pappas (1990, 1991, 1992), Mariana De Biase (2006) and Joanna Coe (2008) also became individual national champions at the Small College and NCAA Division II levels.
Rollins College is located in Winter Park, a few minutes from downtown Orlando. There are more than 150 student clubs and organizations on campus, including a wakeboard club and ballroom dance club. The Tars, Rollins's athletic teams, compete in the NCAA Division II Sunshine State Conference and field a varsity waterskiing team among others. A sizeable Greek life on campus comprises more than 10 fraternities and sororities. About 75 percent of students live on campus in one of the residence halls or apartment complexes. In addition, there are weekly shuttles, "Rolley Trolly", to provide transport to a shopping area for the students.
Fox Day is an annual tradition at Rollins. Since 1956, each spring, the President cancels all classes, providing students with a surprise day off to explore local beaches and amusement parks, together as a college, returning in the late afternoon for a barbecue. It's known as Fox Day, because a statue of a fox is placed on Mills Lawn (the school's main lawn), signifying the day off.
The fox statue, originally accompanied with a cat statue were a gift from Senator Murray Sams in 1934 to President Hamilton Holt as he thought it would be "fittingly enshrined" at Rollins. They originally came from France, and believed to be satirical pieces, depicting, "the Populace (Cat) making his sweeping bow in hypocritical salute to the Papacy (Fox). The statues were placed on pedestals near the old Recreational Hall which is now replaced by the pool. Holt created a "Cat Society" for women and a "Fox Society" for men, these groups consisted of four people each, selected by an annual vote by the opposite gender of the student body for the opposite group. The statues were only allowed to be touched by the respective privileged members. Occasionally, the statues were taken and hidden as practical jokes. However, the cat statue had been mysteriously destroyed in 1949 with the location of the remains unknown. Since then, the fox is hidden and only brought out for Fox day.
During Fox Day season 2015, a petition was widely circulated to include Holt and Crummer students from the popular tradition. Currently, these students are not excused from classes, limiting their involvement in the annual festivities; furthering the disconnect between the evening and graduate students on campus.
Winter Park Bach Festival
Since 1935, the Winter Park Bach Festival, the third-oldest continuously operating Bach festival in the United States, has brought some of the highest caliber of classical performers from around the world to campus, for a two-week event. The 150-voice Bach Festival Society is regarded as one of the finest oratorio societies in America.
Firing of John Andrew Rice and required loyalty pledge
In March 1933, President Hamilton Holt fired John Andrew Rice, an atheist scholar and unorthodox teacher, whom Holt had hired, along with three other "golden personalities" (as Holt called them), in his push to put Rollins on the cutting edge of innovative education. Holt then required all professors to make a "loyalty pledge" to keep their jobs. The widely publicized case was investigated by the American Association of University Professors, and it is known as the "Rollins College Case" among historians of tenure. The American Association of University Professors censured Rollins. Rice and the three other golden personalities, all of them dismissed for refusing to make the loyalty pledge, founded Black Mountain College.
In October 1994, the school made international headlines when the government of Japan, per the request of its Okinawa Prefecture, asked for the return of a statue that was taken as war loot after the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 by Clinton C. Nichols, a then-lieutenant commander in the United States Navy and a Rollins graduate. Nichols had presented the statue of Ninomiya Sontoku, a prominent 19th-century Japanese agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist, and economist, to then-President Hamilton Holt, who promised to keep the statue permanently in the main lobby of the Warren Administration Building. At first, the school rejected the offer made by Okinawan officials, who suggested that a replica of the statue will be presented to the school if the original was returned to the island; however, after consulting both with the U.S. State Department and the school's board of trustees, then-President Rita Bornstein accepted the offer and the statue was returned to Okinawa in 1995 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. In addition to providing the school with a replica of the original statue, the government of Okinawa and Rollins signed "an agreement of cooperation" that pledges to develop additional cooperative projects between the College and Shogaku Junior and Senior High School, the Okinawan school where the original statue has been placed.
On March 31, 1998, the body of Jennifer Leah Kairis, a sophomore student, was found in her Ward Hall dormitory room by a residential assistant. Kairis, who had attended a fraternity party held by the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter on campus hours before she had died, was both legally intoxicated and had a large amount of prescription drugs in her system. At first, the assistant medical examiner at the Orange County coroner's office ruled Kairis' death as a homicide. However, that conclusion was quickly changed after Dr. Shashi Gore, the county's chief medical examiner ruled that she had died as a result of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Kairis' parents, who always believed their daughter was raped and murdered by her college boyfriend, requested a lengthy state investigation into their daughter's death due to their belief that the Winter Park Police Department botched the case. On March 4, 2004, Dr. Bruce Hyma, the Miami-Dade County chief medical examiner and expert toxicologist hired by State Attorney Lawson Lamar ruled that Kairis had committed suicide via a prescription drug overdose. The seven-year investigation was officially closed on April 13, 2005. Regardless of the investigation's outcome, the Kairis family asked then Governor Jeb Bush, to bring in an outside medical examiner to take another look at the case and autopsy results and order an independent investigation of their daughter's death to resolve what they called the "Dueling Medical Examiners".
In March 2011, the school generated significant media coverage after an op-ed article published in the school's newspaper, "The Sandspur," and written by freshman student writer Jamie Pizzi resulted in an outcry by many students and faculty members at the school. In the article, Pizzi compared illegal aliens to home intruders and criticized the automatic citizenship that children born in the U.S. whose parent(s) are undocumented immigrants (commonly known in the media as "anchor babies") received as a result of existing Jus soli laws that apply to the acquisition of U.S. citizenship. Appearing on Fox & Friends which airs on the Fox News Channel as well as on the local Fox affiliate station in Orlando, Pizzi apologized for her choice of words when describing the offspring of illegal aliens, however, she stood by her opinion that Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution should be revised and changed.
In September 2011, as a result of fleeing criminals using the campus to hide from law enforcement officers and the armed robbery of two students who were sitting in a car outside their dormitory within one week, the school's administration initiated discussions on new security measures. Some measures include blocking or limiting access to four of the school's entrances and installing new security cameras to assure student and faculty safety on campus. On 7 January 2014, a full-scale drill with armed police officers was held to make sure the school was ready in the event a hostile incident was to take place on campus. In October 2014, school officials alerted the student body of four incidents at one of its public parking garages near the campus where female students were threatened by a male aggressor.
In popular culture
After a speaking appearance at Rollins in 1988, Kurt Vonnegut used it as one of the models for the school in Hocus Pocus and directly mentions Rollins as being the former place of employment of the fictional school's president.
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