Lewis M. Duncan, Rollins' 14th president, took office on August 1, 2004. Born and raised in West Virginia and later attending school in Texas, Duncan (he actually prefers to be called Lewis), is a self-described member of the "Sputnik Generation." His childhood fascination with satellites and the space program guided his educational and career paths. And while today Duncan is literally a rocket scientist, he is remarkably down to Earth. Warm, friendly, and approachable, he was attracted to Rollins because of the College’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and community. He believes in the value of a liberal education and that Rollins has an important role to play on the national stage in raising the issue of how to make liberal education relevant for the 21st century.
As Duncan meets with alumni and friends of the College, in Winter Park and around the country, he updates them on developments at Rollins. Following is his most recent message.
Taking Rollins into the Community
The Rollins College Mission Statement recognizes our commitment to educating for global citizenship and responsible leadership. It also acknowledges our attachment to community, including cultural enrichment, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. We fulfill that mission in a variety of ways.
Service learning and community engagement provide opportunities for our students to apply what they learn in the classroom to what they discover in the world outside those four walls. Examples range from mentoring at-risk elementary-school students to serving on the boards of nonprofit organizations, to restoring natural habitats here in Winter Park. The beneficiaries are the members of our community whose lives are touched by these service ambassadors, and the students themselves, who report learning experiences that are truly transformative.
Signs of Success
Now in its fourth year on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll With Distinction, Rollins was selected from more than 800 colleges and universities to be one of six institutions to receive the Presidential Award, the highest federal recognition for community service and service learning.
In 2008, the College received Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, making it one of fewer than 200 colleges and universities nationwide to earn this designation. Rollins was the first recipient of Florida Campus Compact’s Overall Statewide Award for most-engaged campus and Rollins faculty members have won the Service-Learning Faculty Award for independent schools each year it has been presented. We were also honored to have been selected as one of 18 inaugural institutions comprising the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, charged with developing a national initiative to educate students for personal and social responsibility.
Beyond the certificates and trophies lies the intangible value of the service experience for our campus community. Our students have learned the power of teamwork: pooling their efforts, they have raised more than $80,000 for Children’s Miracle Network. They have learned to reach out to people they would never meet in their daily lives: giving up their vacations, they have made multiple trips to New Orleans with Rollins Relief to help rebuild neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Every incoming student is introduced to the Rollins service ethos through SPARC (Service Philanthropy Activism Rollins College), which takes students into the Central Florida community for a day of service, education, and action during new-student orientation.
At Rollins, education is learning through application. Our students explore a variety of ways of thinking and doing in the course of making connections between the theoretical and the pragmatic, the campus and the world. We are proud of Rollins’ history of service, and prouder still of the generations of students who shaped—and continue to shape—that history.
Bringing the Community to Rollins
We are pleased that Rollins stands as an intellectual and cultural resource for Central Florida and the state. The annual Winter Park Bach Festival has called Rollins home for more than 75 years and our own Festival of the Literary Arts, Winter With the Writers, celebrates Rollins' long history of visits from authors such as Carl Sandburg, Allen Ginsberg, David Halberstam, Kaye Gibbons, and Nikki Giovanni. The arts at Rollins College continue to flourish at the Annie Russell Theatre, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, and Virginia S. and W. W. Nelson Department of Music, while top-flight collegiate athletics plays out at our various Tars sports venues.
Rollins' Winter Park Institute (WPI), inspired by The Animated Magazine introduced by Rollins' eighth president, Hamilton Holt, has raised the College's profile as a destination for notable visiting scholars and artists. In addition to providing an environment for study and intellectual discourse, the Institute sponsors programs for the campus and local communities. Last fall, WPI revived The Animated Magazine, with former U.S. Poet Laureate and WPI Senior Distinguished Fellow Billy Collins serving as "editor." This fall's lineup of visiting scholars includes Gloria Steinem and David McCullough.
We invite you to learn more about the many facets of the Rollins community by exploring our website and visiting campus. We look forward to welcoming you into our academic home.