Swinging Big

February 06, 2024

By Robert Stephens

Member of the Rollins golf team; Grant and Peg Cornwell and Dana Consler
Dana Consler ’72—pictured at far right with Grant and Peg Cornwell—has recently set up a $1 million endowment for the men’s golf program.Photo by Mike Watters (left).

Dana Consler ’72 took a shot at making the Rollins golf team as a freshman. The surprising result changed his life, which is why he’s now gifting a transformational endowment to the program.

Dana Consler ’72 arrived in Winter Park from upstate New York in August 1968 with a bag full of golf clubs and a pocket full of quarters. The teenager who had never heard of Rollins until a few months earlier was about to make a bold investment in his future.

“You could say I was an outlier in my high school class,” says Consler. “I wanted a different college experience, not just books and partying. I wanted some culture and to see the world. And I wanted to be in the South so I could play golf occasionally.”

More than 50 years later, Consler’s memories of his first few days on campus are as strong as his voice providing the details.

“My parents drove me down, dropped me off, and said ‘good luck.’ I couldn’t wait for the next four years to start.”

By Friday of orientation week, Consler decided it was time to see the world. So he snuck out early to explore a golf course while everyone was still learning about college life.

“As I was leaving campus, I saw 12 other freshmen looking for a ride to the same golf course,” he says. “I knew I was in the right place with the right people.”

He remembers birdying the first hole that day and shooting a one-under-par 71. Later, he used his quarters to call home from a payphone on Mills Lawn. His mom and dad heard confidence in their son’s voice: “The people are easy to meet. The classes are small. The professors are accessible. I really like it here.”

Consler’s connection with Rollins galvanized with each passing day. A year after graduating in spring 1972, he showed his gratitude by sending a $25 check to Rollins. It has become an annual routine, with the dollar figure increasing every year.

“I look forward to writing those checks,” says Consler.

Member of the Rollins men’s golf team putting on the green.
Consler’s endowment to the men’s golf program is the first gift of its kind to a non-rowing sport at Rollins.Photo by Mike Watters.

Two years ago, to celebrate his 50th reunion, he wrote a check for $50,000. Then, in 2023, he went all in with a seven-figure bequest to Rollins under his will, a $500,000 financial aid endowment, and another endowment of $1 million for the men’s golf program, which will provide roughly $45,000 a year in perpetuity. The latter endowment is the first gift of its kind to a non-rowing sport at Rollins.

“The golf program gave me some of my best memories,” says Consler. And they were memories he didn’t expect.

Back to that first phone call he made to his parents. Toward the end of the conversation, he dropped a surprise: “I think I’ll try out for the golf team as a walk-on.” Consler had no expectations of making the team. He knew a student from upstate New York faced long odds against year-round players from Florida.

“Making the golf team would a big deal because it would add something to the college experience that I didn’t anticipate.”

Consler competed for one of the handful of walk-on spots by playing four rounds over two weeks.

“And I made it,” he says, still sounding surprised more than 50 years later.

Friends back in Rochester stopped asking Consler where Rollins was located and why he had such a great tan during the holidays. They could tell he found the college experience he wanted, and it happened to include competitive golf.

“Being on the team impacted my future in finance because it required attention to detail and organization,” he says. “I had to finish classes by noon, be at practice by 1 p.m., get back to the dining hall before it closed, and find time to study.”

Rollins didn’t have a business major at the time, so Consler majored in economics.

“It turned out I didn’t need the exact major because my classes gave me exposure to a wide range of subjects, and I applied all of them to my career.”

He learned one of his most valuable business lessons on the golf course.

“There’s nothing more important in business than relationships, and you can often learn more about a person on the golf course than you can in the office.”

When Consler ramped down his 30-year finance career, which culminated in his role as executive vice president at Karpus Investment Management, he began to focus on estate planning. The good life, for him, has always been about giving back—and making time for golf.

“I’m fortunate to have made some good decisions, including the decision to go to a college no one in the Rochester area had heard of. I went to Rollins hoping to find a different experience, and I found more than that. I found a great springboard for the rest of my life.”

5 Ways to Leave Your Legacy

1. Bequest. This monetary gift passes through a will or trust. It can be designated for scholarship aid, the music department, athletics, or however you choose.

2. Beneficiary. You can add Rollins as a beneficiary to receive a percentage or specific dollar value from your life insurance or retirement funds.

3. Life Insurance. You set up a separate life insurance policy, with Rollins as the owner, and make premium payments each year.

4. Retirement Accounts. When you leave an IRA or 401k as a “charitable gift,” the money isn’t taxed. You can replace this asset with life insurance as a family inheritance.

5. Charitable Gift Annuity. In exchange for a gift of $10,000 or more, Rollins makes annual payments back to you for the rest of your life.

Rollins archway entrance into campus

Planned Giving

Setting up a planned gift is a beneficial way to support what means the most to you at Rollins.

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