The Continuing Importance of Alumnae Engagement

on September 1 | in Homepage, President's Essay | by

Recent events in higher education underscore the dynamic and challenging times in which we are competing. One of the major ways Hollins differentiates itself is through alumnae who are engaged in ensuring a strong future for their alma mater.

By Nancy Oliver Gray

As I write, the campus is bustling with activity. Hollinsummer and the graduate summer session are under way, and we are preparing to welcome approximately 200 traditional new first-year students and an additional 30 transfer and Horizon students. The Moody Center renovation is nearly complete, the Center for Learning Excellence has been relocated to the Wyndham Robertson Library, and planning for laboratory renovations in Dana Science Building has begun, thanks to the generosity of Libby McDonnell ’62 and her husband, James.

During the summer, the bookstore was relocated from the lower to the main level of Moody to boost its visibility. Other improvements included reconfigured meeting and office spaces and a new commuter student lounge.

During the summer, the bookstore was relocated from the lower to the main level of Moody to boost its visibility. Other improvements included reconfigured meeting and office spaces and a new commuter student lounge.

Recent events in higher education underscore the dynamic and challenging times in which we are competing, along with the importance of being innovative and adaptive. How is Hollins responding?

  • Our recent investment in enrollment and marketing, including focused recruitment of talented students who are likely to persist to graduation, has paid off. For the third consecutive year, the number of new students has grown. We also expect to retain approximately 80 percent of our first-year students for the second consecutive year.
  • Our faculty is working hard on curricular innovation. New programs announced in recent years include the bachelor of science in environmental science, a new honors program focused on undergraduate research, a new certificate in musical theatre, new certificates in acting and directing in the graduate program in playwriting, and a new M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating. A group of our faculty is studying applications of new learning technology and participating in workshops to enhance their intercultural competency.Among the other novel initiatives our faculty members are leading, Professor Renee Godard takes students to Saint John in the U.S. Virgin Islands every January to conduct research, and Professor Christina Salowey and University Librarian Luke Vilelle are digitizing and curating thematic collections of images from Salowey’s photographic archives, thanks to funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • Our theatre program is once again listed among the top 20 in the country by the Princeton Review in The Best 380 Colleges.
  • We are enhancing our distinctive role as a women’s liberal arts college by maximizing our strengths. We can now guarantee students the opportunity to study abroad, participate in undergraduate research or creative projects, or focus on leadership development. Hollins’ new Career Compass program offers a dynamic mix of support services, including job and graduate school assistance, résumé workshops, access to the Career Advising Network, the annual C3: Career Connection Conference, and internship opportunities in this country and abroad.
  • We continue to operate with no debt, a strong endowment, and budget discipline. Thanks to your generosity, we exceeded the $3.5 million Hollins Fund goal, which is critical to balancing our budget and funding student financial aid.
Enrolled Student Day

The admission office welcomed members of the class of 2019 and their families during Enrolled Student Day in July. Ten percent of the class is from alumnae referrals.

In this environment, our continued progress depends on one of our strongest differentiating strengths, the engagement of our alumnae. In the year ahead, we urge you to continue to refer students, participate in our C3: Career Connection Conference, sponsor internships during the month of January, engage with your fellow alumnae, tell others about your ties to Hollins, and give to Hollins as you can. The more you are engaged, and the more willing we are to be adaptive and innovative while rooted in our mission, the stronger Hollins will be as we look forward to our 175th anniversary in 2017.

Let’s join together to ensure a bright future for Hollins.

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