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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 16, 2019 6 months ago

Rollins College building gets construction funds, new name

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The Rollins College Mills Memorial Hall received a $10 million donation from Kathleen W. Rollins.
by: Harry Sayer Black Tie Reporter

Rollins College is in the midst of an ambitious rebuilding of its signature Mills Memorial Hall, an expensive endeavor that has been months in the making. 

Luckily, the college has received financial help from one of its former students and current board of trustees members. Kathleen W. Rollins donated $10 million to the construction of the building, which she hopes will go to the post-graduation plans and career initiatives the new institution will provide. The renovated building is planning to be a hub of student engagement on campus and feature a number of experimental learning programs. 

“We want to make sure students are as competitive as they can be and that they have great lives,” Rollins said. “I developed lifelong friendships while I was there. I just feel lifted when I’m on that campus … it’s just a very inspiring school to me. I received a great education and I’ve found a lot of success in life due to many of the experiences at Rollins.”

As such, the three-floor building will be renamed the Kathleen W. Rollins Hall. It’s a special moment for Rollins, who has plenty of fond memories pursuing a behavioral science degree at the liberal arts school.

“We are thrilled that Kathleen’s experience at the College inspired her generous support for this landmark project,” Rollins College President Grant Cornwell said. “Her gift will ensure that future generations of students realize their true potential as global citizens and responsible leaders, empowered to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers.” 

The conversations about the donation started less than a year ago, according to Laurie Houck, vice president for institutional advancement at Rollins College. She and Rollins eventually reached an idea of what would be important for students — an emphasis on future planning and being successful out of college.

“As she and I were talking about our various initiatives and priorities, she responded to that particular vision,” Houck said. “It concluded with a happy marrying of her interests and a strategic initiative of the college.”

Construction already was underway with a combination of school donors and the school’s money covering the expenses. 

The Kathleen W. Rollins Hall is planned to be finished in late fall 2019. Rollins said she is more than excited to see it open. 

“I’m so very proud; I guess my heart has always been at Rollins,” she said. “And now my heart, mind and name will be there forever. It’s very comforting to me. It makes me think those wonderful days and everything I learned will never be over.”

Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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