October 14, 2010
Operation Bootstrap. Institute for General Studies. Central Florida School for Continuing Studies. The School of Continuing Education. An identity crisis? Not quite. The name changes reflect the evolution of the Hamilton Holt School into the world-class institution of learning it has become. There is much to celebrate this year as the school—which had its genesis in the adult-education courses initially offered to returning World War II vets—marks its golden anniversary. Though Operation Bootstrap got underway in the 1950s, degree programs were not implemented until 1960. It was September 7 of that year that the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Rollins College gave formal authorization for the Institute for General Studies—which 27 years later, on Nov. 6, 1987, would be named the Hamilton Holt School, in honor of Rollins’ innovative eighth president.
“The 50-year anniversary derives from when Hugh McKean saw an institutional role in educational access for the whole community,” said Thaddeus Seymour, who oversaw the School’s renaming as Rollins’ 12th president and who also has been known to play the role of Hamilton Holt at various community events. Changing the name of the School for Continuing Education to the Hamilton Holt School was an “expression of commitment to the community, which Hamilton Holt represented, commitment to the value of education and to lifelong learning.”
Holt, who served as Rollins president from 1925 to 1949, “loved Winter Park, loved the students and loved education. He would be very pleased with what the Hamilton Holt School is doing and representing.”
It was Bob Miller, Seymour said, who “interpreted Hamilton Holt for this stage of the school’s history.” Miller, who served as the school’s dean from 1984 until 1991, was instrumental in not only the school’s name change, but also in moving it “from a departmental function of an educational institution to an entity that had character, tradition and a system of values that reflected those of Hamilton Holt himself.”
Though the name may have changed through the years, the mission essentially has remained the same: to provide “a quality education at a convenient time and a reasonable price in a traditional college setting.” And that formula has worked for thousands of adult learners whose lives have been enriched by the student-centered experience provided by Rollins Evening programs.
“Those who come to Holt to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree are always an inspiration to me,” said Patricia Lancaster, who served as dean from 1998-2003, and who oversaw the merger of the Rollins Brevard campus with the Holt program. “Highly motivated and hard-working, they realize the value of an education for themselves and their families.”
That sentiment is echoed by Robert Smither, who served as dean from 1993-98, then again from 2004-2005. “It means a great deal to me personally that I have been able to help people who never thought they would have a college degree graduate from Rollins College.” It was during Smither’s tenure that the annual scholarship benefit Starry, Starry Night began its successful run.
Under the leadership of Sharon Carrier, dean from 2005-09, the Holt School focused on three main priorities: enhancing the educational experience for students, providing additional resources and raising the profile of the Holt School. During her tenure, the Holt School received an unprecedented $5 million gift from Alan Ginsburg and his family. This gift demonstrated “his belief in the transformative power of a Rollins education in the lives of Holt students,” Carrier said.
Today, the Hamilton Holt School continues to serve a vital role in the Central Florida community, offering 10 undergraduate majors and five master’s degree programs, including the new Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism.
“As the Holt School marks its 50th year, Rollins celebrates its 125th anniversary. These significant milestones commemorate Rollins’ commitment to providing a pragmatic liberal arts education for our students,” said Interim Provost Laurie Joyner. “This commitment to a liberal arts education ignites our students’ passion for lifelong learning and service. As a result, our students become engaged citizens and responsible leaders, who make positive contributions to our community.”
Visit rollins.edu/holt or call 407-646-2232 for more information about the Hamilton Holt School’s exceptional undergraduate and graduate evening degree and outreach programs.
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