Rollins College has found its new president.
A six-month-long search came to an end last week as Winter Park’s liberal arts college announced Grant Cornwell as its new president.
Cornwell currently serves as president at The College of Wooster in Ohio, but was nominated by a search committee made up of faculty, staff and students to be Rollins’ 15th president.
The St. Lawrence University graduate gratefully accepted the opportunity.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Cornwell said. “Rollins is an extraordinary institution with just a tremendous amount of potential.”
Rollins found itself without a leader in June 2014 when then-president Lewis Duncan announced he would be resigning from his position and beginning a yearlong sabbatical.
Duncan had been the college’s president for a decade, taking up the mantle in 2004 after former president Rita Bornstein’s 14-year term.
Duncan oversaw the school’s rise to a top-ranking university in the U.S. News & World Report. The college took the number one spot out of 128 regional schools in the southern U.S. for nine consecutive years.
“President Duncan has been a strong leader for Rollins over the last decade, making substantial contributions and laying the foundation for our continued success,” said Rollins College Board of Trustees Chairman David Lord in a statement from Rollins College. “As a result, we can have every confidence in our current strategic direction.”
Cornwell has been president of Wooster since 2007. He is credited with advancing the college’s diversity and global engagement, all while strengthening recruitment efforts that have led to new records for admission applications for the last three years. Cornwell had a direct role in creating the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, a living/learning community that houses multiethnic and international student affairs, as well as interfaith campus ministries.
Rollins College received 167 applications for the open position of president – a list that was gradually reduced to four finalists before Cornwell was selected.
“Number one, [Cornwell] has been [for] eight years a head of a very successful liberal arts college in Ohio, so he was not coming here with a learning curve,” said Allan Keen, chairman of the search committee. “Number two, he has a national reputation for his passion for liberal arts, which is the heart of Rollins. Number three, everything we heard from him, learned about him and researched about him showed he is a great communicator – a person who leads and people follow.”
Cornwell said Rollins College has the potential to be a global liberal arts college.
“The relevance of liberal education in this era means that it has to be global in scope – both what students are learning and the skills they’re leaving college with have to equip them as global citizens and responsible leaders,” Cornwell said. “That is Rollins’ mission, and I think Rollins is uniquely situated as a liberal arts college in Winter Park to be able to draw students from around the globe and throughout the country to engage this very important mission.”
Acting president Craig McAllaster will continue his service until July, when Cornwell will officially start his tenure as president.