At the Center of Experience and Education

on September 10 | in Featured | by

A key strength of the Hollins educational experience is the carefully constructed bridge between the academic programs provided by professors on the campus and the dynamic, real-world experiences beyond the classroom provided by the Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning.

Students studying abroadMade possible by the generosity of Jean Hall Rutherfoord ’74, and her husband, Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., the center encompasses study abroad at an array of destinations around the world; domestic and international internships and other career preparatory experiences; initiatives that promote innovation and engagement while connecting academic work with practical application; leadership practice; and undergraduate research projects conducted in close partnership with Hollins faculty.

Students in creekEnveloping these various programs into the Rutherfoord Center “allows for greater collaboration and interaction while at the same time expanding opportunities for students,” noted then-Interim President Nancy Oliver Gray upon announcing the center’s launch. “These programs all work best in coordination to ensure students acquire the experience necessary to thrive in both professional and educational settings after earning their undergraduate degrees.”

Students studying in labThe center guarantees every student can pursue each of these programs throughout their four years at Hollins. All the while, they gain mentorship and opportunities to expand their networks; receive expert help in identifying leadership, study abroad, research, and career options; and explore prospects for financial assistance.

“Tom and I are so excited to support the path of Hollins students through the array of real-world choices that the Rutherfoord Center will embrace,” Rutherfoord said. “Notably, Hollins’ strong history in study abroad and leadership programs, alumnae-sponsored internships, and research projects with faculty can be offered and centralized in a way to provide all Hollins students more comprehensive access.”

Like many modern university centers, the Rutherfoord Center is not a physical structure but a comprehensive program, so various aspects of the center’s work will continue to be housed in different locations throughout campRutherfoord Centerus, and the opportunities for expansion and growth are bountiful. A director for the center is expected to be named in the coming year.

“Experiential learning transforms personal and social development,” Gray said. “It enhances resiliency, tenacity, curiosity, and self-reflection. It’s an immersive process by which students gain knowledge and skills by observing, inferring, and most of all, doing.”

You can find out more about the Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning at

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