The Most Important Key to Hollins’ Future: You

on September 10 | in President's Essay | by

President Nancy Oliver Gray

The success of Hollins’ new strategic plan hinges on the many kinds of contributions alumnae make. The Alumnae Engagement Campaign outlines how you can make the critical difference.

By President Nancy Oliver Gray

At its May meeting, the Hollins University Board of Trustees approved a new five-year strategic plan, “Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results.” Developed through a yearlong, collaborative process, the plan reaffirms our historic mission of providing an excellent undergraduate liberal arts education for women. At the same time, it proposes to move Hollins in new directions that will bolster and expand upon our traditional strengths to position us for success in the years ahead.

The strategic plan includes three key components:

  • Becoming 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.
  • Creating a competitive advantage for students by using our exceptional alumnae network to connect students with the kind of experiences and mentoring that will help them achieve success in their professional and personal lives.
  • Ensuring institutional sustainability with the goal of making Hollins attractive, accessible, and affordable to qualified students.

Rising costs, escalating student debt, and a weak post-graduation job market make this an especially challenging time in higher education. It’s the kind of climate that encourages prospective students and their families to focus on the bottom line: the cost of education and how that education leads to a job after graduation. What can get lost, however, is the ability to see the long-term benefits of a broadly based liberal arts education. We need to do a better job of explaining these advantages—and one of the ways we will do this is by showcasing the accomplishments of our alumnae.

Because of the exceptional record of alumnae achievement and our extensive and tightly woven alumnae network, I believe that one of the most important and exciting initiatives in the strategic plan, the Alumnae Engagement Campaign, has every chance of success. That campaign—which is just now getting under way—is a reaffirmation that alumnae are Hollins’ greatest source of pride and our most valued asset; it is also a commitment to engage more fully those alumnae in shaping and assuring Hollins’ future.

While alumnae engagement will take many forms—including attending and hosting local social gatherings, attending campus reunions, serving on advisory committees, and making annual gifts to the Hollins Fund—the new campaign focuses on two initiatives: (1) enlisting alumnae more directly in identifying women who will be a strong match for the Hollins experience and then helping persuade them to enroll; and (2) assisting with preparation of our current students for lives of professional achievement and personal fulfillment.

The Alumnae Engagement Campaign is a reaffirmation that alumnae are Hollins’ greatest source of pride and our most valued asset; it is also a commitment to engage more fully those alumnae in shaping and assuring Hollins’ future.

No one can articulate the Hollins experience more effectively than those who have lived it. We therefore challenge the Hollins family to reach out to prospective students, tell our story, and persuade women to explore Hollins and enroll. This initiative will be further supported by a new marketing initiative designed to maximize our visibility with our key audiences.

A critical factor in the alumnae engagement campaign will be our ability to offer, throughout a student’s four years at Hollins, opportunities that excite her about career possibilities and that connect and translate her liberal arts education into readiness for success in whatever career or path she may follow. We are positioned to be a leader by tapping our strong network of accomplished Hollins graduates—one of our greatest assets and key differentiators. This network has already provided Hollins students with significant internships and other experiential educational opportunities; however, we expect to expand the network and significantly increase its portfolio of offerings.

To support this vision for promoting Hollins over the next five years, we will:
  • Create a “Best in Class” program of career preparation and leadership training, with opportunities beginning in a student’s first semester. This distinctive program will draw on our remarkable network of alumnae and include an unparalleled array of Short Term internships that will attract students and prepare them for career paths, graduate and professional programs, or other service to society. This unprecedented program of career preparation and its array of internships will become a new signature of a Hollins education.
  • Complement the alumnae engagement campaign with a significant marketing effort to highlight alumnae accomplishments and special efforts to connect students with the network of Hollins alumnae to which they will belong for life.
  • Enlist alumnae to speak at an annual Career Connection Conference (the first will be held on October 4, 2012), provide career mentoring to students through participation in the conference, and provide individual career advising through an alumnae-in-residence program on campus.

Why are we so confident of success in this venture? Because of you, our alumnae.

The time has come to engage you in new and meaningful ways and to introduce the network of impressive Hollins women to our students and prospective students. If you step forward to help us, we promise to respond with the support and follow-up you’ll need to help us achieve our shared goals.

Ultimately, our success in this effort will be measured by increased recruitment and retention of increasingly able students, an enhanced institutional reputation and visibility for Hollins, and greater net revenue to support and sustain our ongoing operations.

Please read the article on page 9 by Ashley Browning, alumnae recruitment coordinator, on the power of alumnae referrals. I hope you’ll then fill out and return the card in the middle of this magazine—or fill out one of our online forms (refer a student; become an alumnae admission representative). If you are interested in volunteering for the career initiative, contact Mark Jones, vice president for external relations (540-362-6413 or I invite you to get involved and help Hollins flourish, even in these changing times.

Alumnae Engagement Campaign Steering Committee as of August 2012
Clark Hooper Baruch ’68
Sandra Frazier ’94
Holly Hendrix ’75
Judy Lambeth ’73, chair
Frances Leitner ’73
Linda Koch Lorimer ’74
Suzy Mink ’74
Judy Morrill ’84
Suzanne “Suzy” Allen Redpath ’69
Alex Trower ’86
Suzanne Smith Whitmore ’60

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