Hollins Names Nakeshia N. Williams, Ph.D., as the University’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Hollins University has announced the appointment of Nakeshia N. Williams, Ph.D., as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (VPDEI). She will ensure Hollins provides an inclusive experience for all of the students and employees the university serves.

Williams comes to Hollins from North Carolina A&T State University, where she was an associate professor in the educator preparation department in the College of Education. During her tenure, she taught diversity courses to undergraduate and graduate students that were grounded in the interaction of equity, access, and achievement as they pertain to the academic, social-emotional, and identity development of P-20 (pre-school through higher education) individuals. She has served as a campus gender and equity faculty leader as well as an advisor to several student organizations.

Additionally, Williams chairs the diversity, equity, and inclusion special interest group of the North Carolina Association for Colleges of Teacher Educators. She has led numerous diversity and equity initiatives at the local, regional, and state levels, and collaborated with state and local schools, senior faculty, colleagues, and nonprofit organizations to identify and offer solutions to complex issues.

Williams holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in urban education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and bachelor’s degree in English education from South Carolina State University. A licensed professional counselor for over 12 years, she has also written numerous published articles and book chapters highlighting her research on equity and access in P-20; culturally responsive teaching; academic and global identities of minority students; socioemotional experiences of P-20 students; and teacher preparation programs at minority serving institutions.

“Hollins has endeavored to create a diverse and welcoming community, but we still have work to do to achieve inclusive excellence,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “In her new role as VPDEI, Nakeshia will provide the leadership to ensure we are continuously striving for an improved and more inclusive and equitable campus environment. She will connect with students, faculty, and staff to provide programming and create new opportunities for deep, sustained, and institution-wide inclusive engagement and experiences. We look forward to her leadership in crafting practices and policies that foster belonging and are reflective of our loftiest ideals as expressed in our mission as an inclusive liberal arts community.”

“I am very excited about joining the Hollins campus community,” Williams said. “I look forward to working alongside administration, faculty, staff, and students in cultivating programming and initiatives aimed at improving diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence at Hollins University.”


Hollins Anticipates “the Beginning of a Return to Normal” in Fall 2021

Hollins University has announced the initial measures the school plans to put into effect regarding campus life when classes resume this fall.

Students will be expected to be in residence for the 2021-22 academic year, courses will be taught in person, and vaccination for COVID-19 will be required for all campus community members.

“As we wind down the current academic year, we are already looking ahead with anticipation to next fall,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “In many respects, we foresee the beginning of a return to normal while maintaining our focus on the health and well-being of our community.”

Hinton noted that Hollins is continuing to explore how it will adapt for the 2021-22 academic year its Culture of Care, which has guided the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. “We anticipate there will still be CDC and VDH requirements related to physical distancing, especially in our indoor spaces, and masks may continue to be required in certain situations or environments. Our overall goal, however, is to return as much as possible to the regular campus schedule and interactive community we knew at Hollins prior to the pandemic.”

Reinstating the residential requirement for undergraduate students, which was suspended during 2020-21, “will promote regular, in-person contact with others in the Hollins community and allow us to provide the best educational setting possible,” said Hinton. “Possible exceptions to this requirement will be considered based on complexities and barriers related to international travel and for certain specific medical conditions.”

At the same time, Hinton explained, “we know that in-person instruction and interaction between professors and classmates provides the richest educational benefits for our students. As such, and in keeping with pre-pandemic practice, courses will be taught in person, with many incorporating some of the technological enhancements learned over the current academic year.” She said that Hollins recognizes the benefits of online instruction “when it can be delivered with pedagogical excellence. As such, we are considering supporting a limited number of requests for courses that could be delivered virtually. These courses must meet stringent criteria that will ensure the academic excellence that is core to the Hollins educational experience.”

Hinton emphasized that the vaccination of students, faculty, and staff is critical to the university’s ability to continue meeting its highest priority since the pandemic began – maintaining the health and well-being of all members of the campus community. “With the increasing availability of safe and effective vaccines, many at Hollins are already or will soon be vaccinated. Within this context, and in support of being in residence with an active university community, all students and employees will be required to provide proof of full vaccination in order to return to campus in the fall.” She added that exemptions for medical/disability-related or religious reasons may be requested.

Hinton said that Hollins is looking ahead to resuming competition for its athletic teams this fall in accordance with NCAA, ODAC, and public health guidance. The university is also planning to move toward a more regular slate of activities, performances, and events that will meet public health guidance and be supportive of a healthy environment on campus.

“These hopeful steps forward would not be possible without the ongoing commitment and hard work of students, faculty, and staff since March of last year,” said Hinton. “This has been a difficult journey that has required numerous sacrifices. Time and again, our community has risen to the occasion and overcome the challenges we have faced with courage and with heart. That foundation helped sustain us through this unprecedented year.”



Hollins Names Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., as the University’s New Provost

Hollins University has announced the appointment of Laura A. McLary, Ph.D., as provost, effective July 1. She will serve as Hollins’ chief academic officer.

McLary comes to Hollins from the University of Portland in Oregon, where she first joined the faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of German. She was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and full professor in 2015. The following year, McLary became academic associate dean for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), where she worked closely with the dean on issues ranging from strategic priorities and budgeting to communication and personnel. In July 2020, she was named interim dean for CAS, which is the largest academic unit at the University of Portland with 15 departments, nearly 250 full- and part-time faculty, and over 1,300 student majors. She guided CAS last fall through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring excellent teaching in a remote environment while advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice goals.

“Laura is a creative and proactive problem-solver who leads with compassion and courage,” Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton said. “She will be a dynamic and gifted collaborator with a variety of constituencies across our campus.”

“Laura impressed the search committee with her depth of understanding about the current challenges facing higher education, and I believe her innovative, action-oriented leadership will usher Hollins into a bold new future,” added Darla Schumm, professor of religious studies and chair of the university faculty as well as chair of the provost search committee. “Her passion for and commitment to the liberal arts, women’s education, and creating diverse, equitable, and just communities resonate deeply with the priorities of the Hollins faculty. Clearly, she places people at the center of all her work and decision-making.”

McLary will focus on strengthening Hollins’ position as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges for women at the undergraduate level, and as an exemplary provider of coeducational graduate programs. She will pursue opportunities such as cultivating and sustaining a diverse undergraduate and graduate faculty; infusing existing academic programs and departments with new energy and vision while also developing new programs to enhance the intellectual life of the university; participating in the design and implementation of a new general education curriculum; and strengthening the university’s graduate and non-degree programs.

“We are excited to have Laura help us imagine and evolve our academic mission, building on strong traditions while moving Hollins forward,” Hinton noted.


New University Chaplain Is Finding Creative Ways To Offer Religious And Spiritual Services During COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic, a shaky economy, and an impending election, to say that 2020 has been a stressful year for many would likely be an understatement. Catina G. Martin, Hollins’ new chaplain and director of spiritual and religious life, certainly understands that. Having just started at the university on August 10, not only is Martin still adjusting to her first academic chaplaincy (she previously worked as a grief counselor and bereavement coordinator with Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care), but she’s also had to figure out how to provide religious/spiritual guidance to up to 600-plus students of all faiths and backgrounds in what has been arguably one of the most challenging semesters in recent memory.

“I feel for the students, especially the incoming first-years, who were hoping to have a more typical college experience this fall,” said Martin about some of the students she’s been chatting with on campus. “As a chaplain, my first call to service is to get to know the students along with the culture and the climate at Hollins, because when [the students] leave here, for most of them they’re going to enter the workforce. So it’s very important that I help them find all the spiritual and religious resources that they’re interested in while they’re here.”

Born and raised in nearby Fieldale, Virginia, and ordained through the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Martin’s responsibilities as Hollins’ new chaplain include everything from providing religious and spiritual resources to advising a number of student-run, religious organizations and clubs (such as the Muslim Student Association, the Jewish Student Association, and Better Together, an interfaith group). Martin said that the underlying goal is caring for the students spiritually and religiously. “I especially want to help those who’ve left a specific religious community back at home that was really instrumental in their life. My job is to keep them connected to a community here on campus or by providing resources online.”

Although COVID has obviously limited events and activities on campus, Martin hasn’t let the pandemic get in the way (too much) of the in-person component of her mission. In fact, every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Martin hosts a masked and distanced interfaith “Sanctuary” time in duPont Chapel. Martin described Sanctuary as “renewal for our spirits and rest for our souls,” and said that all students, even the nonreligious, are welcome. “It doesn’t have a main religious component,” she explained, “but it is rather spiritual as we are turning inside and letting go of things that are causing us great anxiety, [and] meditating and making space for gratefulness for things we’re able to share and enjoy.”

In addition to the Tuesday Sanctuary services, Martin along with the student group Better Together hosted on October 18 a socially distanced get-together called “Positive Vibes.” The event included free snacks and button making, as well as an hour starting at 4 p.m. for club presidents and other students to speak on the theme of positivity. Martin noted, “It was a time to put some positivity in the air for our Hollins community, for our new president, and for everything that is happening in our world.”

As for the online portion of her chaplaincy, Martin added a virtual component to the university’s guide to religious communities in the Roanoke Valley, providing clickable links to connect students to local faith-based communities that offer virtual services and other offerings. Martin’s also been periodically hosting live “mini” Sanctuary services—10-to-15-minute refreshers or inspirers— on the Facebook page for the Hollins University Chapel and Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. Martin plans to do more of these social media meditations and services during the upcoming J-Term, which has been suspended this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Martin already has quite a bit of experience helping people through difficult times. She completed her first unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, while at the same time working as a volunteer coordinator for Carilion Hospice of Franklin County. In August of last year, Martin completed her two-year chaplaincy residency at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and Trauma Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. As for the recent move over to academia, Martin said that being a university chaplain has been “like a dream. I’m so grateful for life and to be here and to be a part of these students’ paths. I’ve learned so much already.”

Regarding the future of spiritual and religious life on campus (i.e. post-COVID), Martin wants to focus on inclusivity of all faiths and even non-faiths—that includes gathering outdoors and in places that are not thought of as traditional religious spaces. “I’ve had conversations with students who profess to be atheists or agnostic just so I can get close to them and see what they think about love and life and God,” said Martin. “I love having those conversations because it means we can find common ground, even if we have differences.”

Martin’s other big goal as Hollins’ new chaplain will be encouraging students to embrace and appreciate those differences and diversities. This, she believes, is key to creating a loving and healthy spiritual community on campus. “My heart is for us to know that we are one big family. We have a lot of similarities, but our differences are what make us so special and valuable both to the campus and [to] the bigger world. We want our students to appreciate those differences both in themselves and in each other.”


Jeff Dingler is a graduate assistant in Hollins’ marketing and communications department. He is pursuing his M.F.A. in creative writing at the university.

Hollins Announces Plans for January Short Term and Spring Term 2021

Guided by public health experts who advise that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have an impact nationally well into the coming year, Hollins University is striving to ensure the well-being of the campus community with a comprehensive plan for conducting January Short Term (J-Term) and Spring Term in 2021.

“We are preparing now for how we will move carefully onward,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton.

Students will not be returning to campus for J-Term this year and residence halls will remain closed. In-person, virtual, and/or hybrid seminars will not be offered during this year’s session, and the J-Term academic requirement for credit has been suspended for the 2020-21 academic year. Virtual internships, independent study projects, and remote theses are the only activities that will be approved for credit this J-Term.

“The time away during Winter Break (which begins December 11) and the month of January will provide a meaningful opportunity to rejuvenate from a challenging fall semester and prepare for what will be an equally demanding spring semester,” Hinton said. At the same time, she noted that the university will be organizing “a robust calendar of curricular and co-curricular events and programs to keep our students engaged and connected, academically and socially, during this longer break between terms.”

Spring Term classes, which will be taught in-person, online, or through a hybrid mix of those forms of instruction, will begin on February 10, 2021, instead of the previously announced date of February 3.

“Students who are studying remotely this fall will have the option of continuing in that mode or returning to campus for in-person or hybrid instruction,” Hinton explained. “Likewise, students living in residence halls this fall and taking in-person or hybrid courses may choose to stay at home for the spring and learn remotely.” She added that students who decide to take all of their classes remotely will not be able to live on campus during Spring Term.

Information regarding a phased return to campus for the start of Spring Term will be provided to students later this fall, while plans for COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff will be announced in January. Because Spring Term is starting one week later than originally planned, Spring Recess is cancelled this year, and residential students will be encouraged to remain on campus for the duration of Spring Term once they arrive back at Hollins in early February.

Hinton praised the campus community for making the return to on-campus living and learning during Fall Term a success. “You have supported our Culture of Care philosophy and risen to the challenges of our COVID-19 protocols with tremendous spirit and dedication,” she stated in a letter to students, faculty, and staff. “I commend you for your mutual accountability and collective responsibility as we navigate our way through this crisis.”

Hinton acknowledged in her message to campus that while Hollins’ plans for J-Term and Spring Term “are probably not unexpected, I nevertheless understand how disheartening it is to anticipate disruption throughout the rest of this academic year. Despite this disappointment, you should be extremely proud of how you are taking care of yourselves and one another during this difficult time. I am confident that our profound sense of community will sustain us as we continue to make these necessary sacrifices; I know we have the character and fortitude to persevere in the weeks and months to come.”





Moving “Carefully Onward,” Hollins Reopens for Fall Term

Continuing through August 29, Hollins University is welcoming new and returning students back to campus under the theme “Carefully Onward” as part of the school’s comprehensive plan to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation of this plan is a Culture of Care, in which students, faculty, and staff pledge to approach the challenges of this fall with a renewed focus on mutual accountability and collective responsibility to protect one another and mitigate the spread of the disease.

“Our Culture of Care is an explicit articulation of the ideals we have long valued: dwelling in community, caring for one another, and acting with integrity,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton.

Based on guidance from epidemiologists at the Virginia Department of Health, Hollins advised new and returning students to self-quarantine for 14 days before coming to campus. Upon arriving for move-in, all residential students will be tested, and test results will be received within 48 hours. The campus community will undergo randomized weekly testing within the population throughout the fall term.

“Given current COVID-19 trends in the region and our ability to develop a strong partnership with CoVerify Health, we will conduct ongoing, comprehensive COVID-19 testing as part of our Carefully Onward reopening plan,” Hinton said. “Providing this added measure will enable us to continue to be proactive in our efforts to support the health and well-being of the community and provide greater peace of mind to many of our students and their parents as well as faculty and staff.”

Hinton emphasized that the testing initiative in no way diminishes the significance of the  Culture of Care philosophy as the pillar of a successful fall semester at Hollins. “The university has implemented a phased move-in schedule and extended the number of days students may return in order to follow the recommended six-foot physical distancing in buildings,” she explained. “Moving forward, all community members are expected to complete a daily self-monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms, including a duty to report if you have symptoms, feel ill, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Proper hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing face masks, both indoors and outside, are the most important steps in supporting campus health and well-being, while testing will enable us to identify disease transmission.”

Fall Term classes begin at Hollins on August 31. The university is making returning to campus fully optional for students and faculty; those who are not comfortable with an in-person learning environment can choose to learn remotely for the semester.

President Hinton Updates the Campus Community on Fall Reopening Plans

Dear Hollins community,

We hear you.

Thank you to the 659 members of our community who completed our recent survey about our reopening plan, and for sharing your feedback and ideas. Words such as “excited,” “anxious,” “hopeful,” and “concerned” resonated throughout your responses, and we are right there with you in experiencing these feelings.

We are also very grateful to those faculty, staff, administrators, and SGA leaders who took the time to talk with us about the plan. We shared the various scenarios we face and discussed two key questions:

  • How do we deliver the best Hollins experience we can given the current constraints and changing landscape?
  • What resources or support could be provided to enhance your comfort level with a face-to-face, on-campus semester?

What came through clearly in both the survey and in our conversations was that while a vast majority desires to be together in the fall, our community also wants greater individual flexibility in how they might receive their education and deliver their courses in the fall term.

To be clear, we remain fully committed to providing the best on-campus, in-person learning environment we can offer, given the conditions, for those who want it. That said, we are also exploring ways we can honor individual students’ and faculty members’ interest in greater flexibility and learning online, and to provide the best experience possible for them in that environment. Likewise, we aim to be responsive to the concerns of staff, and are exploring ways to accommodate the needs of our employees. Please understand that there will be inevitable and necessary trade-offs in our efforts to address the interest in expanded flexibility. You will receive additional information once changes made in this regard are finalized. We ask for your patience and grace as we navigate this space.

The desire for safety is one shared by all of us in the community. We want to be together and remain physically healthy, and we need to have our emotional and social needs met as well. A healthy campus can only be achieved if we ALL commit to doing it together. If, as our survey results suggest, 10 percent of us ignore these guidelines, this effort will fail.

No president, cabinet, faculty, student, or other individual or single group can assure everyone’s health and well-being without the support and effort of us all. In a sea of unknowns, what we do know is that we have to make our communal health our top priority. In order to be on campus, we have to prioritize mutual accountability and responsibility for our communal well-being. To that end, the Culture of Care commitment is forthcoming and will need to be signed by all within our campus community. Our togetherness depends on our ability and commitment to keep one another well. Every action counts and matters.

While we continue to move toward a more flexible reopening, the reopening plan continues to be dynamic and ever evolving in response to the pandemic. That is an essential part of our work. We were asked several times in our meetings to be as transparent as possible, and to communicate about these matters regularly. As such, you will receive weekly updates so that you are aware of our actions, and updates will continue being made regularly to our Carefully Onward reopening site.

We also heard a desire to understand not only the decisions we are making, but why we are making them. We have updated our FAQ at Carefully Onward to outline the rationale behind some of our decisions. We share this in order to be transparent and to help our community members make informed decisions.

I want to end by sharing the point made quite often in our conversations: We want our students back on campus. We want the campus enlivened with your energy and voices. We think it is especially important for our first-year students to come to campus and be engaged with the Hollins experience. We also want to honor the concerns of all in our community, even as it is clear how varied – and sometimes in respectful opposition – those concerns might be.

In this time of uncertainty, what I do know with absolute certainty is that we can only be together if we work together. With this pandemic, we are only as strong as the community member least interested in our collective health and safety. We heard as much from many of you – faculty, staff, administrators, and students – who mentioned “consequences” and “enforcement” as it relates to the Culture of Care. As such, we will be sharing next week our Culture of Care conduct expectations and outcomes for noncompliance.

We fully believe in this community and what it can be if we unite in committing to a Culture of Care to look out for and protect one another.


Mary Dana Hinton
Hollins University

Committed To “A Culture Of Care,” Hollins Announces Plans To Reopen This Fall

Hollins University has announced plans to reopen as a residential campus this fall, starting classes on August 31 and ending in-person instruction on November 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving.

After Thanksgiving, there will be one more week of remote instruction (November 30 – December 4), followed by Reading Day (December 5) and five days of virtual exams and projects (December 6 – 10). The last day of fall term will be December 10. The change in the calendar allows students to leave campus before Thanksgiving and not return until the university’s January Short Term begins.

Fall Break, originally scheduled for October 15 – 16, has been cancelled, and classes will take place during that period.

“Over the last several weeks, President-elect Mary Dana Hinton and I, along with members of our faculty, staff, and administration, have been assessing the evolving public health situation, studying guidance for higher education from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, and planning for the coming year,” said Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray.

She stated that Hollins “will adapt our ways of learning, living, and working in order to protect the health and well-being for all. For example, in most cases, classes will be limited to 25 persons, and there will be changes to campus dining. Informed by guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, students will be tested for COVID-19 by Student Health if they are symptomatic or have been in contact with someone who is confirmed to have tested positive. If the test is positive, the Virginia Department of Health will initiate contact tracing.”

Gray added that everyone on campus will be required to wear facial coverings when indoors in the presence of one or more people, and maintain a physical distance of six feet from others. “Further, we will introduce more rigorous building cleaning and sanitation protocols, reconfigure some offices, and adjust teaching spaces in order to abide by the six-foot physical distancing requirements.

“We are committed to a culture of care, and as members of the Hollins community, we share a mutual responsibility to adhere to health and wellness guidelines.”

Noting that the university will keep students, faculty, and staff informed throughout the summer as additional plans and guidelines are finalized, Gray said, “We are considering not only the present situation, but also the very real possibility that dramatic changes in the trajectory of the coronavirus may require changes in our plans. Even though we place a very high priority on learning in a residential community, we must remain flexible in response to changing public health conditions and local, state, and federal guidance.”

Additional information on Hollins’ plans to reopen this fall can be found at www.hollins.edu/onward.

President-Elect Hinton Joins Higher Ed. Leaders, New York Times Magazine to Discuss College This Fall

President-elect Mary Dana Hinton is among the higher education leaders brought together this week by The New York Times Magazine to consider “What Will College Be Like in the Fall?”

In her introduction to the discussion, Staff Writer Emily Bazelton notes the challenges colleges and universities face as the coronavirus remains a global threat this fall and winter. “On one side of the ledger are the health risks of density if students return to the dorms and classrooms and facilities….On the other side are disruption and derailment, concern about the isolation of online learning and economic loss for institutions, college towns and regions.”

Bazelton asks, “As colleges and universities make decisions now about their operations over the next academic year, what are the conditions for trying to reopen campuses? If students return, what changes to college life will be needed to contain and suppress the virus?”

Hinton and five other panelists explore “the new realities of life on campus in the midst of a pandemic,” and address specifically the following questions:

  • “If Schools Reopen, What Will Campus Life Look Like?”
  • “What About Working on Campus?”
  • “What Will Learning Be Like?”

Hinton believes reopening Hollins “will be a time of mutual accountability and collective responsibility for the well-being of one another. Healing and the safe re-establishment of community has to be the priority for student life on campus. The community has to collaborate.”

The president-elect goes on to highlight the distinction that “for students whom we want to have social and economic mobility, it’s not just the transactional part of education that matters. It’s the transformational component. And we hear from our students that the development of critical thinking, problem solving and leadership skills – skills that are so important in this search for equity and mobility – happen within and outside the classroom. Being together, being seen and heard, really matters. Also, for some of our students, they need the housing, they need food, they need safety, they need to be in community.”

Joining Hinton in the discussion are Carlos Aramayo, president of the Boston chapter (Local 26) of the union UNITE HERE, which represents dining hall staff members at colleges and universities; Michael V. Drake, president of Ohio State University and a physician; Richard Levin, former president of Yale University and an economist; David Wall Rice, a psychology professor and associate provost at Morehouse College; and Pardis Sabeti, a biology professor at Harvard University and a member of the Broad Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

“I Found My Heart at Hollins”: President-Elect Hinton Shares How the Campus Community Is Already Inspiring Her

As she prepares to take office in August as Hollins University’s 13th president, Mary Dana Hinton declared that “the potential of Hollins feels unlimited” and that she is ready to “lock arms” with students, faculty, staff, and alumnae “and journey together into the future.”

The comments highlighted a wide-ranging video conversation between President-elect Hinton and Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray that was produced for Hollins’ annual Reunion celebration, May 29-31. Recognizing all classes ending in zero or five, and the class of 2018, “Virtual Reunion 2020” was held remotely this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the classes’ in-person reunion postponed until summer 2021. The virtual event welcomed all alumnae to view a variety of online videos at their own time or during remote watch parties. Alumnae were also encouraged to use this time to reconnect with classmates and their Hollins roots.

Hinton noted that her passion for women’s education began during her high school years when she attended Saint Mary’s School, an all-girls school in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I learned about the power of women’s voices and about the importance of women supporting women. Having experienced an all-women’s education helped make me a leader. That realization has only heightened over the past six years as I have led a college for women.” Hinton comes to Hollins after serving as president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.

Describing Hollins’ mission as “a perfect fit” for her, Hinton praised the university for being “steadfast over time in its commitment to women’s education. When I look at the fact that our undergraduate program is centered around developing women’s voices and leadership, that speaks to the deepest part of my personal and professional being. One of my favorite new phrases is, ‘I found my heart at Hollins.’ I love the fact that the women of Hollins are fiercely intelligent, unapologetically ambitious, and incredibly generous.”

Hinton identified several key priorities for her first year in office and said the most important goal for her as a leader will be to learn the university’s culture. “You do that by being present and getting to know all of the stakeholders and constituents. As I’m listening and learning, we need to make sure we are creating an environment of innovation where we explore new ideas and work toward becoming the institution we want to be. I view this first year as centered around building a shared, aspirational future, and recognizing that future will involve investments in new programs, sustaining or perhaps expanding existing programs, focusing on our financial sustainability, and working on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The president-elect emphasized her confidence that Hollins “will persevere through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side. We cannot allow COVID to define who we are as an institution. We have to be even more creative, forward-looking, and determined. It will demand more of and more from each of us, and I think we are up to the challenge. We will stand up and proclaim the value of who we are and what we do.”

Gray lauded Hinton for her “bold, clear-headed, ambitious commitment to elevating Hollins,” and in turn, Hinton cited how honored she felt “to inherit the legacy” of Gray, who was the university’s 11th president from 2005 to 2017 and served as interim president during the 2019-20 academic year.

“The world needs the women we serve at Hollins: Women of consequence, women of passion and determination, women of influence.” Hinton said. “It is at this moment that we choose transformation over transaction, hope over hurt, future over fear. And, it is at this moment that we journey forth – sisters, leaders, and friends – as we lift our eyes and see all that is before us, and with gratitude to our past, we move forward.”

Watch the complete conversation with President-elect Hinton and Interim President Gray.