President Cornwell’s First Week

Rollins’ 15th president, Grant Cornwell, arrived on campus last week and has wasted no time in becoming part of the community—both at Rollins and in Central Florida.

President Cornwell takes a break from yard work at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge with sisters Paige Brock ’19 and Haley Brock ’19. (Photo by Scott Cook)

President Grant Cornwell arrived on campus last Monday and spent the week touring campus, interviewing candidates for the new vice president for enrollment management, and meeting students, faculty, and staff.

On Saturday, August 8, he and his wife, Peg, spent the morning lending a hand at a SummerSERVE project at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge, a rehabilitation facility located in southeast Orlando that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured or orphaned Florida native species. There, they worked alongside a team of Rollins students, faculty, staff, and alumni to improve facilities, build a fence, and enhance outdoor landscaping.

And even though students don’t officially arrive on campus until next week, the Cornwells were greeted last Thursday, August 6, by faculty, staff, and students who filled the atrium of the Bush Science Center to meet the president and first lady. During that welcome party, President Cornwell talked about his vision for the president's residence, our core mission, and moving forward.

“The president’s house is a place for creating those networks of human relations that really make a college a college,” he said. “Barker House will be having lots of events—conversations small and large, meals, dinners, celebrations. I hope to welcome you all through our doors as soon as possible. It will take a while to get you all there, but in time I bet you all will get there for one reason or another.”

While he and Peg will be striving to strengthen the community on campus, Cornwell emphasized that we not lose site of our main purpose as a liberal arts college.

“All students at Rollins College are here for a liberal education, and we are all here to support that mission,” Cornwell said. “Whenever you hear me talk, I will be talking about our core purpose, our driving reason for being. And it’s that that we’ll be focusing on as we craft a strategy together.”

Cornwell, though eager to begin Rollins’ next chapter, also reminded faculty and staff that he’ll need time to get to know Rollins more fully before setting the direction.

“I sense that there is a pent-up sense of urgency,” Cornwell say. “And I love that because, as you will come to learn, I am a person inclined toward action and innovation and change and forward-looking progress. With that said, I do ask for you to have a little patience because I have so much to learn. For me to be able to work with you, for me to be able to lead the College, I need to learn the College. That doesn’t mean just knowing the facts; that means knowing the people. That doesn’t mean just knowing the history that I can read about; it means feeling the culture and soul of the place. And that’s going to take a little time.”

“We’re happy to meet you all,” Cornwell continued. “We are thrilled to be part of Rollins.”

Peg Cornwell (far right) embraces Executive Assistant to the President Lorrie Kyle ’70.(Photo by Scott Cook)

President Grant Cornwell addresses the faculty, staff, and students who gathered in the Bush Science Center atrium for his reception. (Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

Peg and Grant Cornwell (right of center) volunteer at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge with the Rollins community as part of SummerSERVE. (Photo by Scott Cook)

Grant and Peg Cornwell talk with Nycholas Vergara ’19. (Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)

(Photo by Scott Cook)