A Conversation with the President

Grant Cornwell reflects on his first year as Rollins president and discusses plans for his second year at the helm of the College.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Q: From your inauguration and the Summit on Transforming Learning to your first Fox Day, your first year as Rollins president was quite eventful. What stands out most to you?
A: This has been a year of learning about all things Rollins. Peg and I cannot imagine a warmer welcome or a community more eager to work together to build a common future. I would say that my focus this first year was internal. I devoted considerable energy to getting to know the people, history, and culture of this fine college, getting to know the faculty as a whole and as individual teachers and scholars, and, of course, getting to know the students. The more I learn, the more grateful I feel for the opportunity to serve Rollins.

Q: What can the Rollins community learn about you as a president from your inauguration week?
A: A presidential inauguration is really a time to celebrate the history of a college and to cast an eye toward the future. I hope what faculty, staff, students, alumni, our neighbors in Winter Park and Orlando, and all the emissaries from other colleges that came to participate took away from the weeklong program is a sense of the depth and quality of our mission at Rollins, a sense that we are all part of a larger purpose, that we are collectively committed to something that matters, and that Rollins has a noble past and a bright future.

Q: When you were elected last year, you expressed your intent to embark on a project of listening and learning. What have you heard and learned about Rollins during that process?
A: I have learned that the faculty and staff of Rollins are passionate about our mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership. I learned that our students fully understand what they are doing here and bring to their own educations well-honed individual senses of purpose. I learned that Rollins is ideally situated to provide a highly relevant, highly engaged liberal education tuned for this era by being situated as it is within Winter Park, itself thoroughly enmeshed in the global city of Orlando. I also learned firsthand about the impressive heat and epic thunderstorms of late summer in Central Florida.

Q: What are your priorities for the second year of your presidency?
A: I have two priorities in my second year. First, I feel we are now well organized to begin a robust process of strategic planning on campus. Through this process, we will collaboratively build a common vision of our shared future and a plan for how to move Rollins boldly forward. My second priority is to begin getting to know better the alumni of Rollins. The focus of my first year was on campus. In my second year, I hope to get to know the larger Rollins family that can be found throughout Florida, across the nation, and around the world.