Alexandra Trower ’86, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees, announced the selection of Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., as the school’s next president in this letter to students, faculty, staff, and alumnae on February 13, 2020.
Hollins University has announced that Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., president of the College of Saint Benedict (Saint Ben’s) in St. Joseph, Minnesota, will become the school’s next president. She officially takes office on August 1.
“I am overjoyed to be named the 13th president of Hollins University,” said Hinton, a North Carolina native who has served as president of Saint Ben’s since July 2014. “Hollins’ steadfast commitment to the education of women, its grand ambitions for the future, and the strong desire to not only be an inclusive leader in women’s education but a higher education innovator reflects the incredible vision and enormous potential of the university. I am grateful for the opportunity to, alongside the Hollins board, faculty, staff, alumnae, and, of course, the outstanding student body, envision and work toward an incredibly bright future.”
During Hinton’s tenure at Saint Ben’s, she was successful in elevating the national profile and voice of the college as a thought leader in higher education, specifically in the liberal arts and women’s leadership development. Saint Ben’s, which enrolls approximately 1,700 undergraduate women, is ranked in the top 100 liberal arts schools by U.S. News and World Report.
Hinton guided the collaborative development of a strategic plan, the first in the college’s history, which emphasized Saint Ben’s many strengths, such as the holistic and transformational advancement of women. Through a collective process, Hinton implemented Saint Ben’s vision to provide a liberal arts education preparing women to think critically, lead courageously, and advocate passionately, while working to increase and institutionalize diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. She also led the process to implement a $43 million campus buildings update, enabling the college to provide premier facilities for teaching, learning, and promoting women’s leadership.
Another highlight of her presidency was the completion of a $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, raising $105.4 million as of January 2020. The campaign is the biggest in the school’s history and includes the two largest gifts ever to the college. Saint Ben’s endowment has increased by 46 percent under her leadership and its annual fund grew by 24 percent.
“President Hinton’s leadership experience prepares her perfectly to lead Hollins,” said Alexandra Trower, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We hoped to find a candidate who was a sitting president, who was passionate about women’s education and the liberal arts, and who was excited about building the trust and collective effort needed to support new programs for Hollins’ future. We found all of that, and we also found a remarkable woman.”
“Evident throughout her tenure is President Hinton’s heart for educating women, and she has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to envision a future and motivate others toward that vision,” added Susan Rudolph, OSB, prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery. “Similar to Saint Ben’s, Hollins is a private women’s college whose mission is to nurture civility, integrity, and concern for others. Mary’s educational standards call others to be their best. We have been gifted by her presence and by the wonderful insights that have become guiding lights.”
Prior to her role with Saint Ben’s, Hinton served as vice president for academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York, and previously was associate vice president of academic affairs at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. A recognized leader in higher education nationally, she is a member of the board of directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges. She holds a Ph.D. in religion and religious education with high honors from Fordham University, a Master of Arts degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Williams College. Williams awarded Hinton its Bicentennial Medal, which honors members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement.
“President Hinton is simply a gem,” Trower said. “She exudes competency and strength, with a quiet dignity. She is eloquent and warm. She’s sophisticated and yet down-to-earth. She is so thoughtful about students and optimistic about the opportunities Hollins can seize. She is simply a person you want to be around.”
Hinton and her husband, Robert Williams, have three children. Her mother resides in Clarksville, Virginia.
Hollins will welcome Hinton to campus on Friday, February 21, to meet with students, faculty, and staff.
Founded in 1842 as Virginia’s first chartered women’s college, Hollins is an independent liberal arts university providing undergraduate education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women, and community outreach initiatives. In addition to 29 undergraduate majors and eight coeducational graduate programs, including a nationally recognized creative writing program, the university offers extensive career preparation, study abroad, and undergraduate research opportunities as well as the innovative Batten Leadership Institute, which challenges both students and professionals to be better leaders.