Our President & Leadership

President Nancy Oliver Gray

President Nancy GrayNancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University’s 11th 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.

Strategic Plan

  • President Gray is guiding the university through the second strategic plan of her tenure. The current plan, Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results, focuses the university’s efforts through 2017.
  • The plan’s vision is for the university 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 led 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 successfully concluded in 2010 with more than $161 million raised, far exceeding the goal of $125 million.
  • Other significant accomplishments 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 an M.Ed. from North Texas State University and has completed additional graduate work at Vanderbilt. She also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Presbyterian College.


  • President of Converse College in South Carolina for five and a half years before coming to Hollins
  • Vice president of development and alumni relations at Rider University
  • Vice president of seminary relations at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she now is a member of the board of trustees
  • Past vice chair of the board for resource development for the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
  • Past chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV)
  • 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; 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. Between them they have seven adult children.