A Letter from President Mary Dana Hinton

on March 7 | in President's Essay | by

Dear Hollins University Community,

President Mary Dana HintonI trust this edition of the magazine finds you filled with hope and purpose as 2021 unfolds. As I enter the new year and spring term, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the ways this community pulls together and gets things done. And we do it with patience, grace, flexibility, and good humor. Certainly, to thrive during a pandemic required all of those characteristics. But, most of all, it required a community dedicated to collective responsibility and mutual accountability. In every way, our community created a culture of caring for one another.  

As we thrived in this unprecedented and disruptive moment, it became clear that the courageous mission of Hollins University is as relevant today as it was when it was formed 179 years ago. The need to educate women at the undergraduate level, develop their leadership voices and talent, offer them experiential learning opportunities, and ignite their passion to explore and create is critical. Likewise, our coeducational graduate programs continue to prepare a generation of leaders in many arenas and bring prestige to our university.  

Indeed, the need for a rigorous education and powerful leadership—the very cornerstones of the Hollins mission—has never been more critical.  

I truly believe that Hollins is uniquely poised to embrace and amplify our mission at this moment, to capitalize on our legacy of courage, and to prepare a transformative future. To thrive at this moment, to protect our mission and ensure it is sustainable and relevant far into the future, it is essential that we not only invest in but imagine critical components of how we express and manifest our mission.  

This imagination process has been unfolding as an implicit and explicit part of the presidential transition. Since the spring of 2020, the Hollins community has had many conversations wherein I’ve asked for feedback or insights into what matters most at Hollins: what must we protect, what makes us so special, and what must we change? I am so grateful to the hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i who have shared their hopes, fears, aspirations, and plans. The responses have been consistent and compelling. 

In January 2021, our entire community came together to learn and think together about issues ranging from finances to enrollment to the credentialing landscape. I am so grateful for the presence of our faculty and staff as we engaged in learning as a community.  

As we imagine and create our future, it’s important to note that this process is not merely in reaction to COVID-19 but an opportunity to plan for our success well into the future. We can make decisions now that enable us to emerge stronger. The opportunity of the forthcoming post-pandemic landscape is ours for the taking, but the moment won’t last. This opportunity to magnify the power of women is ours for the  taking, but the moment won’t last. This opportunity to pursue meaningful racial reconciliation is ours for the  taking, but the moment won’t last.  

I am inviting the entire community, including you, into this imagination process as we plan for a thriving future. 


What matters most at Hollins  

Embrace our identity as  
a college for women 

Ensure we remain focused  
on our liberal arts education,  
both in terms of content  
and cultural ethos 

Support the rebuilding  
of our faculty  

Embrace the sense of place  
that gives meaning  
to the Hollins experience 

Maintain our students’  
outstanding academic profile 

Become a model of inclusion 

Enhance, support, and leverage our university status by better  
engaging, promoting, and supporting our graduate programs 

Provide the resources needed  
to support and retain outstanding faculty and staff 

Leverage what we have learned during COVID-19, especially as  
it relates to online learning 

Provide students the resources needed to succeed beyond  
the classroom (student success, retention, mental health,  
accessibility, etc., support) 

Provide needed and desired  
professional development  
for faculty and staff

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