President Hamilton Holt, a nationally recognized journalist, editor, and internationalist, brought national visibility to the College in its middle years, and left a legacy that includes a distinguished tradition of "experimental" education. During Holt's administration, Rollins College established the conference plan, which emphasized close teacher-student contact. Under this plan, teachers and students shared the learning experience around a conference table, an activity that led students to develop clear standards by which to judge their work. The College retains aspects of this method, particularly in its program for first-year students, but not to the exclusion of other significant approaches to teaching.
The Holt years brought many national figures to campus including Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, Justice William O. Douglas, and Edward R. Morrow. Perhaps most notably, in January 1931, Rollins hosted a Curriculum Conference, with the distinguished educator John Dewey as chairman. The resulting recommendations–which emphasized "Individualization in Education"–were implemented by Rollins in the fall of 1931. So provocative were these innovations, that Sinclair Lewis, in his Stockholm address accepting the Nobel Prize in literature, listed Rollins as one of only four colleges in the United States doing the most to encourage creative work in contemporary literature. To read more about Hamilton Holt, please visit the Rollins College Archives Golden Personalities site.