A Rollins Perspective

Part II: The Heroic Age & the Spirit of Change



By Lorrie Kyle Ramey ’70





Hamilton Holt

In the second installment of its history of Rollins College, Rollins Magazine looks back on the College’s growth from 1925 to 1969, recalling the eras of Rollins’ legend-maker, Hamilton Holt, and his two immediate successors, Paul Wagner and Hugh McKean.

When students arrived at Rollins in the fall of 1925, the College was 40 years old, and about to take steps as daring as those of its founders nearly half a century before. The man who came to Rollins that fall to become the College’s eighth president was not an educator by profession, yet Hamilton Holt launched one of the most innovative concepts in modern education. In 1938, The Rollins Record opined, “Rollins is now making much the same kind of cultural contribution to the Deep South as the New England colleges made 50 years or more ago to the Northeastern States. The Northeastern Colleges have happily ‘arrived’. Rollins College is still in its ‘Heroic Age’.”

The two decades that followed Holt’s retirement in 1949 were years of rededication and rebirth. In 1951, The Sandspur announced a “Rollins Renaissance,” and The Tomokan of 1968 suggested “the old Rollins is dead.” The 1967 yearbook dedicated itself not to a dean or professor or trustee, but to the reawakened energy it detected on campus, the “Spirit of Change.”

Rollins’ 10th president, Hugh McKean, sparked Rollins’ imagination again and again, continuously introducing new programs and challenging the comfortable habits of Rollins’ students and leaders. In a period that began in Korea and ended in Vietnam and witnessed the assassination of the first U.S. President in 62 years, any feelings of complacency were fleeting. Change sometimes seemed the only constant, but it was certain that the grand old lady of Winter Park wasn’t about to sit back and watch herself grow old.




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“The Heroic Age” and “The Spirit of Change” were originally published as Parts II and III of “A Centennial Perspective” in the December 1985 and Spring 1986 issues of the Rollins Alumni Record. In addition to the acknowledgments appearing there (Jane F. Fletcher, former Archivist; Mannee Rawa, Assistant in Archives; Donna Janeczko, freelance cinematographer and film producer; Edward H. Cohen, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English; Tom Wells, Director of the Physical Plant; and Jack C. Lane, Weddell Professor of History), we wish to thank Professor Wenxian Zhang and Gertrude Laframboise of Rollins’ Olin Library Archives and Special Collections.


Rollins 1885-2010 | 125 Years