Located at the heart of campus, the Mills building was originally built as a library, a gift in 1951 of the Davella Mills Foundation. The library served the College for many years, but with the opening of the Olin Library in 1985, plans got underway to turn Mills into a student center.
The architects for the Mills renovation, Rogers, Lovelock & Fritz, stayed true to the original building in their redesign of the structure for its new purpose. The Mills building reopened in the summer of 1987 and currently houses the post office, student government and publications offices, student resource center, WPRK—the College’s student-run radio station, and a number of lounges and offices. Among the facilities on the first floor is the Galloway room, a large room for meetings, lectures and receptions. Also on the first floor is a bronze bust of Hamilton Holt, of which it is said that if you rub the nose, you will have good luck for years to come.
Hamilton Holt accepted the presidency of Rollins College in 1925 and served until 1949. He had established a national reputation as a journalist through his involvement in the family-owned Independent magazine. A graduate of Yale and Columbia, Holt was managing editor and eventually owner of the magazine.
He was active in the world peace movement and served as the president of the National Peace Congress. His career was diversified; first a journalist, then an internationalist, and then he focused his energies on education.
Holt built a national reputation for Rollins with his innovative teaching methods. He encouraged faculty to employ new methods built around what he called the Conference Plan. Classes centered around discussion between faculty and students rather than the traditional lecture and recitation.
Holt also recognized the value of good teachers. He said, “It is the professors who make a college great, and yet how rare is a great teacher.” He was responsible for bringing what he called “Golden Personalities” to the teaching faculty.
Holt was convinced that the proper physical environment was important for a meaningful education experience. He felt buildings should be designed with spacious and open breezeways to take advantage of the favorable climate. He thought Spanish-Mediterranean architecture blended best with “palms, bamboos, and brilliant sunshine.” Altogether, Holt added 32 buildings to the campus, all built with the Spanish-Mediterranean design.
His contributions to Rollins survive today through the buildings, the architectural style, his beloved Walk of Fame, and his spirit of constant striving for excellence.