Rollins’ Brighter Together Campaign Raises $293 Million

March 03, 2023

By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA

More than 16,000 donors answered the call to invest in the people, programs, and places that prepare Rollins graduates to lead meaningful lives and productive careers.

It’s official. Rollins has closed the books on its largest-ever fundraising campaign, raising $293,483,635 to elevate the College’s commitment to everything from academic excellence and applied learning to life-changing scholarships and one of the nation’s top residential liberal arts campuses.

More than 16,000 donors from all 50 states and nearly 70 countries contributed to Brighter Together during the multi-year campaign, helping the College exceed its $275 million goal by more than $18 million.

“Brighter Together has been successful as a reflection of the care and excitement that is felt by alumni, parents, trustees, and community partners sharing in their wealth so current and future students can experience the best possible education,” says Allan Keen ’70 ’71MBA ’10H, trustee and national chairman of the Brighter Together campaign.

“A Rollins education, and the Rollins experience, will prepare our graduates to face issues in the world today with open eyes, good experience, active community involvement, and a passion to solve problems,” says Keen. “The financial resources contributed during the Brighter Together campaign will make all this possible, particularly for those with less ability to pay for a great Rollins education.”

Rollins celebrated the historic success of Brighter Together with a fireworks display over Lake Virginia.Rollins celebrated the historic success of Brighter Together with a fireworks display over Lake Virginia.
Rollins celebrated the historic success of Brighter Together with a fireworks display over Lake Virginia.Photo by Scott Cook.

The Brighter Together campaign stands as a hallmark of the strategic planning initiative launched by President Grant Cornwell upon his arrival in 2015. That community-wide effort resulted in a roadmap that called for an expansive collection of investments that reflected the College’s priorities and ambitions.

“The most powerful thing for a college like Rollins is for it to cultivate a shared sense of vision, mission, and purpose,” says Cornwell. “One of the things that made this campaign so successful is that our donors have invested wholeheartedly in that vision. They have helped us fund our strategic priorities, and they are boldly moving Rollins forward.”

Investments through Brighter Together have yielded both immediate and long-term impact in the Rollins community and in the lives of Rollins students.

The atrium of Kathleen W. Rollins Hall is full of students studying and working with faculty and staff.The atrium of Kathleen W. Rollins Hall is full of students studying and working with faculty and staff.
Kathleen W. Rollins Hall is one of several campus enhancements that has made Rollins better at delivering on its mission.Photo by Scott Cook.

The creation of Lakeside Neighborhood and the Tiedtke Theatre & Dance Centre, the renovation of Bush Science Center and Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, and the expansion of The Alfond Inn are enhancing Rollins’ dedication to academic excellence, applied learning, and the opportunity for all deserving students to pursue a Rollins education. Increased annual giving to The Rollins Annual Fund is helping ensure that every student has access to the full Rollins experience every year.

Throughout the campaign, donors also established 68 scholarship, program, and chair endowments. These investments will pay dividends for years to come, helping the College deliver on its mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership and creating more opportunity and better outcomes for future generations of Tars.

“You can see proof of the progress we’ve made in the record number of applications we’ve received and in the size and strength of the enrolling class of 2026, which is the largest class in the College’s history,” says Cornwell. “As amazing as those things are, that’s really just scratching the surface of what we accomplished, and we’re going to continue to see the proceeds of this effort for years and decades to come.”

Rollins faculty walk into Knowles Memorial Chapel for the College's Phi Beta Kappa installation ceremony.Rollins faculty walk into Knowles Memorial Chapel for the College's Phi Beta Kappa installation ceremony.
In March 2022, Rollins became one of fewer than 300 colleges to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.Photo by Scott Cook.

First-Time Donor, Lifelong Connection

Vivianne Nieves ’21 ’22MAT was one of the 8,256 donors who made their first gift to Rollins through Brighter Together.

“I gave a very small amount,” she says, “but I wanted to start that habit. I received all kinds of scholarships myself, so I wanted to do this out of my heart as a matter of principle.”

Nieves was a teaching intern at Seminole High School while she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees through Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School. She thrived in Rollins’ small, discussion-based classes and participated in seven Immersions, including trips to Rwanda, Uganda, and the Lakota lands of South Dakota. Today, she’s following her passion for teaching Spanish at Lyman High School.

“I give back because of what has been given to me at Rollins,” says Nieves. “We invest in each other because we believe in the mission of the College, its rich history, and its promising future. I’m always going to be connected.”

New Scholarship, New Hope

Arielle Etienne ’23 received the Rodney C. Adkins ’81 Scholarship, one of 45 scholarships endowed during the campaign. A Bonner Leader and environmental studies major from Brooklyn, New York, Etienne credits donors’ financial support with allowing her to study at her “No. 1 school.”

“I’m really grateful for the scholarships I received,” she says. “I wouldn’t have been able to attend Rollins otherwise.”

Etienne is a member of the Black Student Union, Caribbean Student Union, and Sigma Gamma Rho—activities she says helped her develop leadership skills and gave her a new sense of community, hope, and empowerment.

“I’m currently applying for fellowships in environmental justice,” she says. “My goal is to go home and help the city of New York become more green and sustainable.”

A college student poses for a portrait in the Bush Science Center.A college student poses for a portrait in the Bush Science Center.
Ellie Rushing ’18’s career-making internship at the South Florida Sun Sentinel was funded through Rollins’ Gateway Fellows initiative, one of 20 new programs endowed during Brighter Together.Photo by Scott Cook.

Gateway to Greatness

A high-profile internship at the South Florida Sun Sentinel would have been out of the question if Ellie Rushing ’19 hadn’t received funding from the Gateway Fellows program, one of 20 new programs endowed during Brighter Together.

Launched in 2018 with a $2 million endowment from trustee Campbell Brown ’90, Gateway Fellows covers expenses for students to immerse themselves in prestigious opportunities.

“That unforgettable summer at the Sun Sentinel not only solidified my passion for reporting,” says Rushing, “but it gave me the clips and resume to earn a post-graduate internship at The Philadelphia Inquirer the following summer.”

Today, the former Sandspur editor is a criminal justice reporter at The Inquirer, with a focus on covering the city’s gun violence epidemic. She finds herself frequently drawing on her Rollins experience and credits her liberal arts education with developing a broad worldview to comfortably tackle whatever news the day throws at her.

“Holding various leadership positions at Rollins gave me the confidence to dive into unpredictable work in an unfamiliar city,” says Rushing. “But most notably, through my study abroad experiences in Rwanda, I learned empathy and trust-building skills that remain the backbone of my work and identity.”

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