After nearly 12 years of distinguished leadership, Hollins University President Nancy Oliver Gray announced today that she is retiring from office at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve this extraordinary community of talented, creative, and committed people,” Gray stated in a letter to the campus community. “I am proud of all that we have accomplished together.”
“We are fortunate that Nancy has served us so wonderfully and so long as Hollins’ president,” said Judy Lambeth, chair of the Hollins University board of trustees. “She leaves our institution stronger in every dimension and she will be missed. Her leadership is unparalleled.”
Gray came to Hollins in January 2005, after serving five-and-a-half years as president of Converse College in South Carolina. Her list of accomplishments is long, including significant gains in enrollment with the largest class of incoming new students in 22 years starting this August. Under her guidance, the University has operated under no debt and a balanced operating budget for the past ten years. She led Hollins during 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. In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Hollins among “America’s 100 Most Financially Fit Colleges.” In its list of College Financial Grades for 2016, published yesterday, Forbes issued Hollins an “A” rating. The grades measure the fiscal soundness of some 900 four-year, private, not-for-profit colleges with at least 500 students.
As Hollins’ eleventh president, Gray has spearheaded the creation of a number of new academic programs including majors in environmental studies and environmental science; a certificate program in leadership studies; an extensive seminar program especially designed for first-year students; a Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s book writing and illustrating; and a faculty-designed honors program that complements the University’s academic curriculum and provides students a multidisciplinary and research-based experience. All Hollins students are now guaranteed opportunities for study abroad, leadership development, undergraduate research, and internships, which are important building blocks for success post-college.
Gray has overseen renovation of historic buildings and gardens on the Hollins campus and became a driving force in deepening the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2007, Hollins became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Agreement, and over the past nine years has dramatically reduced its carbon consumption.
Gray noted these and other achievements occurred “during an era when both women’s colleges and liberal arts colleges and universities have been increasingly challenged by demographic, economic, and regulatory changes. Nevertheless, Hollins has steadfastly remained both competitive and faithful to our mission. The work we do matters as we prepare students to discover and learn to use their voices, and to lead fulfilling professional and personal lives in a complex, global, fast-paced, and rapidly changing world.”
“There are no words to convey my and Hollins’ collective gratitude for the extraordinary – indeed unprecedented – leadership Nancy Gray has provided,” said Lambeth. “She has advanced the institution in innumerable ways.”
Gray is a native of Dallas, Texas. She and her husband, David Maxson, have seven adult children between them as well as ten grandchildren, and she told the campus community she wanted to spend more time with her family. In the meantime, she is eager to lead Hollins’ celebration of its 175th anniversary during the 2016-17 academic session.
“Hollins has an exciting year ahead and I am thrilled to be welcoming our new and returning students as we celebrate 175 years of educating women,” she said.
Lambeth stated that a presidential search committee is being established to recruit Gray’s successor.