President Nancy Oliver Gray
President Gray on YouTube
Nancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University’s eleventh president in January 2005. She brought to Hollins a strong belief in the liberal arts and sciences and the need for women’s colleges in higher education.
Under Gray's leadership, Hollins has embarked on a strategic plan, Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results, which is focusing the university's efforts through 2017. The plan's vision is for Hollins to become nationally recognized as the women’s liberal arts college that best unites excellence in liberal arts education with experiential learning opportunities and strong career preparation. Gray also guided Hollins through the completion of a five-year strategic plan in 2011 that emphasized the hallmarks of the university’s undergraduate experience: leadership development, global and intercultural understanding, environmental and cultural sustainability, and creativity.
Gray also guided the university through the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in school history and the largest ever undertaken by a women’s college in the South, the Campaign for Women Who Are Going Places. The campaign successfully concluded in 2010 with over $161 million raised, far exceeding the goal of $125 million.
Other significant accomplishments of Gray's presidency include a new major in environmental studies; a new certificate program in leadership studies; an extensive seminar program especially designed for first-year students; an honors program; renovation of historic buildings and gardens on the campus; growth of Hollins’ endowment from $85 million to more than $165 million; balanced operating budgets for the past eight years; and elimination of the university’s debt.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Gray holds a master of education degree from North Texas State University and completed additional graduate work at Vanderbilt. She also received an honorary doctorate of human letters from Presbyterian College. She served as vice president of development and alumni relations at Rider University and as vice president of seminary relations at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she now is a member of the board of trustees. She was president of Converse College in South Carolina for five-and-a-half years before coming to Hollins.
Gray is past vice chair of the board for resource development for the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and past chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV). She is past vice chair of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC); treasurer of the Women’s College Coalition; holds membership on the Board of Directors of the Private College 529 Plan; serves on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Steering Committee; and is the presidential sponsor for the Virginia Network of the American Council on Education’s Office of Women in Higher Education. In the Roanoke area, she serves on The Business Council (a forum for business in the NewVa region), and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Valley Business FRONT magazine.
A native of Dallas, Texas, she is married to David Maxson and between them they have seven adult children.