Rollins' Past Restored for Rollins' Future
Generations of Rollins alumni are familiar with the space that the Winter Park Institute (WPI) now calls home. A few blocks north of the campus on Interlachen Avenue rests the Osceola Lodge, which was home first to business entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Hosmer Morse, and later President Emeritus Hugh F. McKean ’30 ’72H and his wife—and Morse’s granddaughter—Jeannette Genius ’62H. The historic house, dating from the 1880s, was graciously offered, along with the adjacent Knowles Cottage, by the Charles Hosmer Morse and Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundations for the Institute’s use as a study center for its scholars-in-residence.
First to “hold office” in the facility is former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ’08H, who is serving concurrently as Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins. Among Collins’ campus appearances was an inspiring conversation in October with his friend singer-songwriter Paul Simon before a packed house at the Knowles Memorial Chapel (see “Paul and Billy Down by the Schoolyard”). Other luminaries hosted by WPI this year include internationally known jazz banjo player Béla Fleck; author and editor Linda Wagner-Martin; writer, performer, and psychodramatist Natalie Krasnostein; internationally acclaimed opera star Marilyn Horne; William Blake scholar and expert on Blake’s printing process Michael Phillips; social justice and trade union activist Robert Muehlenkamp; 18th-century British art scholar and author William L. Pressly; Tiffany and American Arts Craft Movement scholar Martin Eidelberg; The Wall Street Journal theater critic and author Terry Teachout, expert on open access for academic journals Peter Suber; George Washington University president emeritus Stephen Trachtenberg; and widely respected Cuban-American author Roberto Fernandez.
While an undergraduate at Rollins, McKean delighted in President Emeritus Hamilton Holt’s “Animated Magazine,” an innovative and nationally recognized program that brought such notables as U.S. President Harry Truman ’49H to campus. President Emeritus Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H believes that McKean would have been pleased that his former home now brings the ideas of today’s thought leaders to life for the Rollins community. “Hugh was very proud of the numerous distinguished figures who came to Rollins and Winter Park over the years,” Seymour said. “He introduced me to the booklet by Cora Harris, The Town that Became a University, and I remember one day in the 1980s, standing with him in front of Osceola Lodge, when he thought out loud about a facility for distinguished visitors to our community. ‘This would be a wonderful home for visiting scholars,’ he mused. How happy and proud he would be to see the Winter Park Institute.”