21 Reasons We Can’t Wait for the New Mills

Earlier this summer, Rollins broke ground on an ambitious building project that will breathe new life into a campus icon, Mills Memorial Hall. When it’s finished next fall, the new Mills will serve as the beating heart of Rollins’ mission.

Located in the center of campus, the new Mills will be a hive of student engagement and activity with an open-concept design that encourages students to connect, build community, and work on group projects that showcase a 21st-century liberal arts education in action. Since the new building isn’t slated to open until August 2019, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at just how much Mills will mean for current and future Tars.

1. It will bring together 10 curricular and co-curricular programs in an environment that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration.

The redesign of Mills will co-locate like-minded programs throughout its three levels.

Level 1

  • Center for Career & Life Planning
  • Office of External & Competitive Scholarship Advisement
  • Pre-Health Advising
  • Student Media

Level 2

  • Center for Leadership & Community Engagement
  • Office of International Programs
  • Office of International Student & Scholar Services
  • Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub
  • Social Entrepreneurship Program
  • Sustainability Program

Level 3

  • Galloway Room
  • Two classrooms
  • Two seminar rooms

Students in environmental studies professor Barry Allen’s first-year field study to Costa Rica gain international experience before they even set foot in a Rollins classroom.

2. It will give every Tar the opportunity to experience once-in-a-lifetime international adventure.

Each year, Rollins’ Office of International Programs offers more than 90 study abroad programs. Every semester, Rollins students see and do things around the world that most people only dream of—like hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, hopping a train through the French Alps, bird-watching in a lush Costa Rican rainforest, and scuba diving an effervescent Bahamian reef. It’s little wonder then that the College is ranked in the top 10 among master’s-granting institutions in the nation for the percentage of undergraduates who study abroad. Want to explore the globe and test your ability to make it brighter? Make the new Mills your first destination.

As Bonner Leaders, Meredith Ewen ’19 and Sam Sadeh ’18 put their ideas to work in the world, launching community engagement programs of their own design.

3. It can give you the leadership tools to pursue your passions while making the world brighter, smarter, and more enterprising.

During her first year at Rollins, studio art major Meredith Ewen ’19 developed an art program for Opportunity, Community, Ability, an Orlando nonprofit that serves children and adults with special needs. A year later, computer science major Sam Sadeh ’18 founded an after-school coding program for students in local Title I schools that earned exclusive funding from Google. Both Ewen and Sadeh learned how to lead powerful change in their community through Rollins’ Bonner Leaders Program, a four-year community service opportunity administered through the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement to provide scholarships and enrichment to students passionate about volunteering.

Jayashree Shivamoggi (middle) helped Isaac James ’19 become the first Tar to earn the prestigious PPIA Fellowship.

4. It can help you earn the world’s most prestigious scholarships.

Jayashree Shivamoggi and Terumi Rafferty-Osaki in Rollins’ Office of External & Competitive Scholarships spend virtually every waking minute preparing Rollins students to pursue the world’s most prestigious scholarships. Their hard work has paid off. For proof, here’s a quick look at some of their more recent accomplishments.

They helped Rebecca Charbonneau ’16 earn a 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which will allow the art history and critical media and cultural studies double major to pursue a PhD at Cambridge University on a full ride. They helped Emma Thvedt ’20 earn a Boren Scholarship, a prestigious federal scholarship that provides up to $20,000 to study less commonly taught languages in international regions critical to U.S. interests. They helped Brittany Edwards ’17, Destiny Reyes ’17, and Meghan Wallace ’17 earn 2018-19 Fulbright Scholarships and add to Rollins’ long legacy of Fulbright Scholars. And they helped ensure Isaac James ’19 was one of the 100 students learning from the nation’s brightest minds in economics, quantitative methods, and policy analysis at the Junior Summer Institute in Public Policy and International Affairs. And that’s just in the past few months. In recent years, Tars have received everything from Goldwater and Pickering scholarships to National Science Foundation Fellowships.

5. It will help you land the best internships in Orlando and beyond.

This past spring, computer science major Michael Gutensohn ’18 gained cutting-edge, real-world experience at Kennedy Space Center’s Augmented Virtual Reality Lab. It was Gutensohn’s third consecutive internship at NASA and just one of the hundreds of epic resume builders the Center for Career & Life Planning has helped Tars land in the last year. In fact, while Gutensohn was working on 3-D facial and object recognition at NASA, his classmates were honing their craft everywhere from Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Ballet to Universal Orlando Resort and The Walt Disney Company.

6. It will blend state-of-the-art amenities and cutting-edge design with Rollins’ signature warmth and storied tradition.

The new building’s modern layout will include smaller personal spaces and larger community spaces that are designed to promoted interaction and collaboration. Twenty-first-century amenities like the podcast and recording room will complement an exterior style that will feel right at home alongside Rollins’ distinctive Spanish-Mediterranean architecture.

7. It could help you found a social enterprise that has the potential to deliver power to millions of people who need it most.

This summer, Nikki Hall-Elser ’18, Matias Meirelles Van Vliet ’19, Dayra Diaz-Marquez ’18, and Kinsley Gerks ’20 are holed up in a castle in the English countryside, fine-tuning a business model that might eventually bring affordable, renewable power to millions of the world’s poorest people. But before the quartet behind BatterEASE was besting teams from Yale, Cornell, Brown, and UC Berkeley to advance to the finals of the Hult Prize (the world’s most prestigious collegiate competition for social innovation startups), they were honing their bright idea with the guidance of Rollins social entrepreneurship faculty and with the support of Rollins’ Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Hub. In the new Mills, these two resident social accelerators will share the same floor.

8. It will help the next generation of Rollins students grasp the power of service before classes even begin.

In the dozen years since Rollins founded SPARC Day, more than 8,000 Tars have contributed more than 32,000 hours of service to an average of 24 community organizations each year. Anyone who has participated in the annual day of service knows that the event’s impact stretches well beyond what numbers alone could ever indicate. Each year, SPARC Day plants the seeds of service in the hearts and minds of a new generation of Rollins students, giving them a small taste of what can happen when they put their ideas to work in the world. It’s also just one of the many ways the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement empowers Tars to engage the issues facing communities in the 21st century—and it all starts at Mills.

Students in Josephine Balzac’s Strategies for Changemakers course get a hands-on look at what it means to serve a community by partnering with Fleet Farming, a local social enterprise that converts neighborhood lawns into organic micro-farms.

9. It will be home to the world’s first social entrepreneurship program to be accredited by AACSB International.

Rollins boasts the first social entrepreneurship program in the world to earn accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the premier evaluator of quality business programs since 1916. The program’s move to the new Mills building will only enhance its stellar credentials by providing social entrepreneurship majors with easy access to an array of hands-on learning experiences. Just one example: The program will be headquartered on the same floor as the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub, which provides students with the space, tools, and support to develop and lead creative and sustainable solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

The Office of International Student & Scholar Services welcomes first-year international students to campus early, giving them extra time to settle into their #RollinsLife.

10. No matter where you hail from, it will make our campus feel like home.

From Australia to Zimbabwe, the Rollins student body includes students from more than 65 countries, and the College has an entire office dedicated to making sure each and every international student thrives in our diverse community of learners. The Office of International Student & Scholar Services, which will be located on Mills’ second floor alongside the Office of International Programs, provides everything from visa and immigration support to an international peer advisor program and a slew of social and cultural events.

11. The environmental entrepreneurs behind the urban farm, bike-share program, and a host of other campus sustainability initiatives will now have a dedicated workspace to dream up new and better ways to save the planet.

Over the years, Rollins’ student-run Sustainability Program has spearheaded everything from our Fair Trade-campus designation to an urban farm that supplies fresh, organic produce to campus dining services. In the new Mills, the Sustainability Program will have its own collaborative workspace on the same floor as the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub and the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement.

Students in Dan Myers’ Creating the Digital Future course developed a walking-tour app for Hannibal Square, a historic African-American neighborhood located a mile from Rollins’ campus.

12. It will help you create positive change in your community and get credit for it.

Create promotional strategies that help a local social enterprise increase its impact. Use 21st-century tools to bring a hidden history to life. Help an ethical fashion retailer that fights poverty by manufacturing products in Haiti secure ethical certification. Rollins’ community-engagement courses—the proceeds of a partnership between faculty and the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement—allow students to put the knowledge they develop in the classroom to work in the real world while also making a positive impact in our local community and communities around the world.

13. You might hatch a startup or dream up a research project while building a burrito or mixing your acai bowl.

Like all the spaces in the new Mills building, the new student lounge is designed with creative collaboration in mind. Christened the Fox Den, the lounge will be outfitted with a full kitchen as well as a range of communal dining/work spaces.

Students traverse Arches National Park during a spring break Immersion experience in Moab, Utah.

14. It will empower you to confront the biggest challenges facing communities in the 21st century.

From addressing access to safe drinking water in the Dominican Republic to helping preserve one of America’s most dramatic landscapes, Rollins’ Immersion experiences allow students to engage some of world’s most pressing issues through weekend and sometimes weeklong journeys of education, reflection, and action. These transformative trips have become bucket-list experiences for Tars, which is a big reason why the College has ranked in the top 5 nationally for the highest percentage of students who participate in alternative breaks for five consecutive years. Whether you want to help plan and lead these journeys of discovery or you’re just looking for your first opportunity, the new Mills will be your one-stop shop for life-changing adventure.

Valedictorian Shelby McGuire ’15, now a JD candidate at Georgetown University Law Center, worked and studied abroad through the Boren Scholarship and U.S. Fulbright Program.

15. It taught Shelby McGuire ’15 how to use what she was learning in the classroom to create positive change in our backyard and around the world.

“Mills is the heart of campus, and I don’t just mean geographically. I always felt at home there, and it’s where I met some of my best friends, most supportive mentors, and inspiring student leaders. Mills was also one of my most impactful classrooms, teaching me how to use what I learned in my academic courses to lead and serve my community. This space has an incredible legacy, and I can’t wait to see how the renovations will improve the lives of students and the community.”

As a student, Bonner Leader Avani Mooljee ’16 made a global impact, interning with the American Red Cross and marketing bags woven from plastic litter in Zimbabwe. As a grad, she’s still at it, promoting literacy in the Dominican Republic through the Peace Corps.

16. It’s where Avani Mooljee ’16 always felt welcome.

“Mills became my home very early on during my time at Rollins. The Center for Leadership & Community Engagement (CLCE) was an especially welcoming place where several of us students regularly went for comfort, guidance, and opportunity. It was through CLCE that I’ve been able to network with other Peace Corps volunteers thousands of miles from campus. This office and this building are a crucial part of every Tar’s experience at Rollins. The people who work here truly change the lives of everyone who walks across the Green and through those doors.”

17. It puts aspiring doctors on the front lines of medicine.

For more than a decade, Rollins’ Pre-Med Observership Program has helped prepare Rollins undergrads for careers in medicine by placing them alongside Florida Hospital doctors in emergency rooms and surgical centers throughout Orlando. The program is a joint venture between the Center for Career & Life Planning and Pre-Health Advising, a pair of offices that will be neighbors in the new Mills building, and a shining example of the collaboration that can occur from co-locating like-minded teams in support of Rollins students.

18. Your voice deserves to be heard.

From WPRK to The Sandspur, Rollins’ student-run media outlets have been among the Mills Building’s most popular tenants for decades. In the new Mills, student writers, designers, and DJs will enjoy all the tradition of one of Florida’s oldest newspapers and most storied radio stations in state-of-the-art facilities that will enable them to elevate their crafts.

Phillip Denizard ’16 and Stacey Van Praagh ’93

19. It could connect you with a meaningful mentor who can put you on the fast track to professional success.

As a student, Phillip Denizard ’16 forged a mentorship with Rollins trustee and fashion executive Stacy Van Praagh ’93, a former president of Fendi and global vice president of Oscar de la Renta. Initially, the relationship yielded a pair of high-profile internships at L’Eclaireur in Paris and Givenchy in New York. Eventually, Van Praagh’s influence helped Denizard land his current gig as an assistant buyer at Gucci’s New York City headquarters. The Center for Career & Life Planning’s new Career Champion Program promises to proliferate powerful student-alumni partnerships like these. The new program, which matches students with alumni mentors whose professional paths align with the students’ career interests, enjoyed a wildly successful pilot this spring. In fact, 96 percent of student mentees and 100 percent of alumni said they would recommend the program to their peers. Want to be the next success story? Head to Mills.

Raul Carrill ’14 ’16MBA says Mills was the heart and soul of his Rollins experience.

20. Just the idea of the new Mills Building makes Raul Carrill ’14 ’16MBA want to enroll at Rollins all over again.

“Having so many incredible pieces of the student experience centrally located in the heart of campus will elevate the meaningful work already being done at Rollins. Together, students, faculty, and staff will be able to cross-pollinate ideas, challenge one another, and collectively engage in conversation, research, and experiences that drive a call to action. Places and spaces like Mills foster and nurture a sense of community and bring together people who make Rollins special. That is the beauty of human-centered design, and I cannot wait for students to embark on this new adventure to explore, dream, and discover their world and themselves.”

21. This list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, this list could be a whole lot longer. In fact, we’re only scratching the surface of the many ways the new Mills center will help Rollins deliver on its mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering them to lead meaningful lives and productive careers. That’s why we have no intention of stopping here. Keep your eyes peeled for more reasons we love Mills as the project progresses over the next year.