Our President & Leadership

President Nancy Oliver Gray

President Nancy GrayNancy Oliver Gray became Hollins University’s 11th president in January 2005. She brought to Hollins a strong belief in the liberal arts and sciences and the need for women’s colleges in higher education.

Strategic Plan

  • President Gray is guiding the university through the second strategic plan of her tenure. The current plan, Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results, focuses the university’s efforts through 2018.
  • The plan’s vision is for the university to become nationally recognized as the women’s liberal arts college that best unites excellence in liberal arts education with experiential learning opportunities and strong career preparation.


  • In August 2016, Hollins looks forward to welcoming the largest class of incoming new students in the last 22 years. The class of 2020 also exemplifies Hollins’ dedication to maintaining high academic standards in admissions.
  • Hollins now guarantees all students opportunities for study abroad, leadership development, undergraduate research, and internships.
  • Hollins has introduced new academic programs including the M.F.A. and certificates in playwriting and the M.F.A. in children’s book illustrating and writing; the university has added new undergraduate programs such as the First-Year Student Seminar, Honors Seminar Program, and new major in environmental science; and has established the Jackson Center for Creative Writing.
  • Much of the campus has been renovated, including Swannanoa, Turner, Randolph, Bradley, the Theatre, and the Hill Houses; Tinker, Moody, and Beale Garden have been enhanced, and access has been improved to Moody, Talmadge Recital Hall, and Turner. Thanks to the generosity of Libby ’62 and James McDonnell and others, preliminary work on the Dana Science Building renovation will begin this summer with an expected completion date of February 2018.
  • Hollins has increased the diversity of its student body and deepened its commitment to making the university the inclusive community it aspires to be.
  • As original signatories on the American College and University President’s Climate Agreement, Hollins has reduced its carbon consumption and dedicated itself to sustainability.
  • Hollins has launched a new alumnae engagement initiative. As part of this, alumnae help students gain an edge on their careers with signature internships, career mentoring, and the annual Career Connections Conference.
  • Hollins completed the largest fundraising campaign among all southern women’s colleges in 2010, with gifts totaling more than $161 million. This impressive commitment of financial support from alumnae and friends of the university continues today; over the past fiscal year, Hollins has raised more than $18 million.
  • Hollins has no debt, operates with balanced budgets, and ended the last fiscal year (FY 2015) with an endowment of $171 million. The university has more endowed student scholarships, professorships, faculty development funds, and endowments for internship and study abroad opportunities than it did a decade ago.


A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Gray holds an M.Ed. from North Texas State University and has completed additional graduate work at Vanderbilt. She also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Presbyterian College.


  • Gray serves on the boards of The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Princeton Theological Seminary; the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment; Mill Mountain Theatre; and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.
  • She is the presidential sponsor for the Virginia Network of American Council on Education’s Office of Women in Higher Education.
  • She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs.
  • She is serving on the Steering Committee of Admission Practices for the National Association of College Admission Counseling through September 2017.
  • She is also past chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia, past vice chair of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and has also served as vice chair of the board for resource development for the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges.
  • She served as president of Converse College in South Carolina for five-and-a-half years.

A native of Dallas, Texas, Gray is married to David Maxson and between them they have seven adult children and ten grandchildren.

In July 2016, Gray announced that she will be retiring as president of Hollins at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

Contact: presoffc@hollins.edu