A Conversation with the President
Lewis Duncan, Rollins' 14th President
Who says athletics and academics don’t mix?
It’s said that good news doesn’t sell newspapers, and collegiate athletic programs often earn headlines for all the wrong reasons. We asked Rollins President Lewis Duncan for the good news about athletics and student-athletes at Rollins.
Q: Who is the typical Rollins student-athlete?
A: The typical Rollins student-athlete is the typical Rollins student. Talk to four students at Rollins, and you’ll likely find at least one student-athlete. Tars team members comprise nearly 25 percent of the residential undergraduate student body (and more than one-third of international undergraduate students), with another 4 percent of players coming from the Crummer Graduate School of Business and Hamilton Holt School programs. They are represented in almost every major.
Q: The Tars have certainly demonstrated their ability in competition: 22 national championships, 66 conference championships, and repeated top-25 placement for overall performance among more than 280 NCAA Division II institutions. Are they champions in the classroom as well?
A: Competition goes beyond the field—teams compete for the best GPA, and the average GPA of student-athletes has exceeded 3.0 for the past 24 consecutive terms and 3.1 for the last seven. Three of the four 2013 A&S/CPS valedictorians were student-athletes, including the first Rollins student to win an NCAA Elite 89 Award. Rollins is a repeat winner of the Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence, posting four-year academic success rates of 95 percent and 94 percent for the past two years.
Q: What’s the magic formula?
A: The athletic department’s mission statement declares, “Students will be scholars first, athletes second.” Under the leadership of Pennie Parker, who was named an Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year in 2013, student success remains the program’s focus. The coaches’ commitment to their teams and to Rollins is legendary, and many of our alumni credit their successful lives to their coaches. The average current tenure of a head coach at Rollins is 15 years. Multiply that by 18 head coaches, and you get a sense of the tradition, dedication, and loyalty that inspires Rollins sports.