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The Dreams of the Dreamer

The Hollins University Choir opened this year’s Founder’s Day convocation with these lyrics, setting the stage for a marvelous address by Nancy Newton “Newnie” Rogers ’82 about how one particular dreamer, Charles Lewis Cocke, fulfilled his own dreams. “All that he sacrificed, all that he built, all that he dreamed for Hollins, has been realized—in you, in me, in Hollins,” she said.

Where are the dreams of the dreamer?
Roseat they flashed in the dawn,
Instinct with promise of sunrise,
Of service to ages unborn,
Eager and restless and honest,
Daring, aspiring, and bright,
Where is the vision?
‘Twas holy,
Can it be lost in the night?

What is distinctive about the Hollins culture that began as a shimmering dream of Charles Cocke but over the generations has grown into a living embodiment of his remarkable vision? Those who love Hollins will have their own response, but I think the “dreams of the dreamer” are realized today in the following aspects
of the Hollins experience:

Small classes.

With a faculty/student ratio of 1:11, faculty at Hollins really know their students. Through give and take in the classroom, individualized attention, and flexibility associated with an intimate learning environment, the small-class environment creates exceptional opportunities for students.

Top faculty.

Hollins faculty are ranked among the nation’s “25 Colleges with the Best Professors,” according to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Others on the list include the U.S. Military Academy, Wellesley, Carleton, Sewanee, and Bryn Mawr.

First-year seminars.

Limited to 15 students, these classes allow students and faculty to get to know each other well. Professors in each seminar serve as these students’ academic advisors. Students also benefit from a peer mentor assigned to the class to help answer questions and promote class discussion.

Extraordinary library.

The Wyndham Robertson Library is one of the best collegiate libraries in the nation, having received the 2009 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Leadership development.

By participating in interactive seminars, skills assessment, development labs, and leadership projects, students can earn a leadership certificate through the Batten Leadership Institute.

Hands-on experience through internships.

The January Short Term gives students exceptional opportunities to relate their academic study to the world of work. Thanks to the support of our Alumnae Board, Hollins students have had internships all over the world.

Study abroad.

Building on a strong tradition, students today can study abroad regardless of financial need, thanks to the generosity of the John M. Belk Educational Foundation’s Challenge for Study Abroad and the wonderful alumnae response to that challenge.

Creativity rules.

Imaginative self-expression derives from the inspiration found in our creative writing program, exciting offerings in studio art and film, and performance opportunities in music, theatre, and dance. But creativity explodes across the curriculum, from the thesis required in many majors to research in the natural sciences.

Generous alumnae.

When it comes to alumnae giving per student, Hollins is ranked number six in the nation.

Financial equilibrium.

Hollins enjoys exceptional fiscal strength in the current market, operating with balanced budgets, an endowment spend rate of 5 percent, and no debt. We have seen our endowment grow in recent years to more than $146 million.

In his efforts to promote women’s education, Charles Cocke swam against a powerful tide. Today, Hollins continues to swim against the tide and there is no guarantee now, as there was no guarantee then, that it will get any easier. As Newnie pointed out, if Hollins is to continue to fulfill the dreams of its founder, it is not enough to be the “dreams of the dreamer.” We are also the “caretakers of the dream.” Are we each doing our part to keep the dream strong?