Groundwork for Greatness
October 26, 2021
By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA
Just north of Fairbanks Avenue, Rollins is creating a hub of philanthropy, art, and entrepreneurship at the nexus of our campus and our community.
It’s a picturesque Winter Park afternoon when a business executive checks into the new wing of The Alfond Inn at Rollins College.
She’s in town to meet a team of MBA students seeking seed funding for their startup. But things look a little different than her last trip to campus in late 2021.
Instead of walking south, across Fairbanks Avenue, to reach the Crummer Graduate School of Business, her destination is only across the street, between The Alfond Inn and Park Avenue. And the museum tied to that contemporary artwork in the hotel lobby—it’s right next door.
With a few minutes to explore, our business exec steps into the new Rollins Museum of Art, a modern, glass-walled building where an interdisciplinary group of undergrads is debuting a new exhibition. Nearby, a docent leads a community group on a tour.
“You can reach the Crummer building through those doors,” says a guide, pointing to a verdant outdoor walkway. “Thank you for visiting!”
Inside the business school’s spacious lobby, just past a flexible auditorium space that doubles as an events center, four MBA students who have flown in from around the world rise to meet their guest. It’s go time.
Over the next few years, Rollins’ planned Innovation Triangle will create a hub of business, philanthropy, art, and entrepreneurship through the expansion of The Alfond Inn and the construction of new facilities for the Rollins Museum of Art and the Crummer Graduate School of Business.
While work recently began on The Alfond Inn, the art museum and the new facility for the business school are in a crucial fundraising stage as part of Brighter Together, the campaign for Rollins. These buildings will be located on a 2.37-acre city block, already owned by the College, bound by New England, Interlachen, Lyman, and Knowles avenues.
Take a closer look at each leg of The Innovation Triangle, then explore how bringing these three entities together will transform the connection between our campus and our community, energize our commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, and expand opportunities for future generations of Tars.
Drafting a Cultural Connection and Conversation
Over the past decade, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum—recently rebranded as the Rollins Museum of Art—has experienced tremendous growth, attracting nearly 50,000 visitors in 2019 (five times more than 2012).
Almost 900 works were added to its collection, fundraising grew sevenfold, the number of actively engaged students and faculty more than tripled, and the first endowment specifically for exhibitions was established.
The single-most important factor in this growth? Incorporating the museum’s Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art into the design of the award-winning Alfond Inn. It turns out, taking art directly to the people spurred a whole new level of interest.
And therein lies the goal of the museum’s next endeavor.
Moving into a modern, three-story, 31,000-square-foot building—adjacent to the planned Crummer business school and a stone’s throw from The Alfond Inn—will make Rollins’ arts and cultural experiences more visible and accessible to the community while providing much-needed space for additional exhibitions, study rooms, a lecture hall, a curricular gallery, and other enhancements.
Currently, only 1 percent of the collection can be on view at any given time. With the new facility, however, “we’ll have more opportunities to take work out and have it engaged by students, the public, and students from other colleges and universities,” says Ena Heller, Bruce A. Beal Director of the Rollins Museum of Art. “And that will help us better fulfill our mission as a teaching museum that uses art to encourage critical and creative thinking, along with aesthetic enjoyment.”
As an example, Heller points to the curricular gallery, which will display collection works tied to specific courses while also being open to the public. This bridge between campus and community will encourage lifelong learning, multigenerational experiences, and newfound partnerships while giving talented art students like Morgan Snoap ’20 a more impactful stage to launch their careers.
“Being deeply involved at the museum was a formative part of my Rollins education and a motivating force for my continued career in the field of art history,” says Snoap, who curated two exhibitions at Rollins and is working toward her PhD in African art history at Boston University. “I’m thrilled that through the generous support of donors and the College, the museum is able to expand and create more opportunities for engagement with Rollins students and the larger Central Florida community.”
As of August, about 70 percent of the museum’s $22.6 million fundraising goal has been reached, with generous donations from several alumni, including Charlotte Probasco Corddry ’61, and board member emerita June Nelson P’89.
“Now is the time,” says Nelson, a 22-year member of the museum’s board of visitors. “I know the urgent need for more space to show our vast and diversified permanent collection, now largely in storage. We have the approval from Winter Park, we have the off-campus space, and we have the support of our leadership. Now is the right time to make it happen.”
Drawing on the Modern Workplace
The business world has changed dramatically in the 50-plus years since the Crummer Graduate School of Business first opened its doors. So too have the types of learning spaces needed to develop global business leaders for 21st-century success.
As part of The Innovation Triangle, Crummer is planning a three-story, 44,500-square-foot facility with newly imagined environments for teaching, executives, entrepreneurs, and working and early career professionals. Executive education, programming for nonprofit leaders, project development, and cross-disciplinary innovation with the ability to blend face-to-face interaction with technological interfaces will also be integrated into the new space.
Additionally, the building will feature a flexible auditorium as well as a central suite of multipurpose and interactive gathering, networking, and conferencing spaces facing an outdoor garden that connects the business school and the new museum.
“These types of spaces are needed to continue Crummer’s excellence as Florida’s top-ranked business school,” says Crummer Dean Deborah Crown. “This strategically located, state-of-the-art facility will build upon that reputation, establishing us as the regional hub for executive education and a key player in the growth of investment in Central Florida.”
With more choices than ever in the MBA and Executive Doctoral Business Administration (DBA) marketplace, today’s tech-savvy, collaboration-minded business school students—as well as their current and future employers—are seeking schools that provide a real-world education mirroring the modern workplace.
Elite business schools across the nation are rising to this challenge, investing in new facilities that attract students and elevate community and corporate engagement.
“Crummer’s ability to match modern offerings at other schools is absolutely essential in securing our long-term success and delivering on our mission,” says Crown, pointing to similar initiatives at Harvard, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, Auburn, and Florida State, among others.
“Our new facility, in concert with the museum and The Alfond Inn expansion, will position Crummer as one of the nation’s premier destinations for executive education. We’ll be able to better serve entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and business leaders—all while elevating our reputation in the community and across the globe.”
The Innovation Triangle, adds Crown, will help Crummer draw more top-tier global executives and serial entrepreneurs, which will increase Rollins’ visibility and reputation among corporate partners. In turn, that will enhance the value of a Crummer degree and expand opportunities for Crummer graduates.
The Crummer project has raised nearly 60 percent of its $25 million goal, including a $2 million commitment in April from the Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation.
“Massey Services has many team members who have received their MBA from Crummer and continue to be involved in the program,” says Andrea Massey-Farrell ’98, the foundation’s president and CEO. “We believe this new building will have a significant impact on our community.”
As CEO of Winter Park’s AndCo investment consulting firm, Mike Welker ’99 ’01MBA also regularly taps into Crummer’s talent pipeline. Having high-quality arts, education, and hospitality in close proximity to the charm of downtown Winter Park, he says, will be a game-changer.
“The College is really showing its commitment to position Crummer for even greater impact, academically and in the local community,” says Welker, “and I know the Rollins alumni network will come together in a big way to lend its support.”
Perennially recognized as one of the nation’s most renowned boutique hotels, The Alfond Inn at Rollins College is about to get even better—and bigger—creating more rooms, more amenities, and more financial aid for Rollins’ brightest students.
This past summer, the hotel embarked on a two-year expansion that will add 71 luxury guest rooms and suites, bringing the total number of rooms to 183. Designed in harmony with the original structure, the new wing will use natural light, a four-story atrium, and striking artwork to provide continuity and a seamless transition from one space to another.
In addition to a new lobby cafe (coffee and crepes in the morning, beer and wine in the evening), the expansion includes a wellness spa with seven treatment rooms, steam and sauna, a fitness area, and luxury locker rooms. On the second floor, the spa will open onto a new amenity deck that features a second swimming pool, private cabanas, and a shaded canopy that covers an extensive outside living room.
A new meeting room and boardroom will add 2,400 square feet to the hotel’s customizable event space, a favorite social hub for all occasions among the Rollins and Winter Park communities.
“The expansion provides a pivotal moment for us to grow in tandem with Rollins and The Innovation Triangle,” says Jesse Martinez, general manager of The Alfond Inn. “What’s more, it gives us even more opportunities to fulfill our philanthropic goals, which are always at the heart of our mission.”
Owned by Rollins and founded in 2013, The Alfond Inn is the nation’s only hotel that serves as a formal extension of an art museum. Its pioneering business model also funnels profits to the Alfond Scholars program, Rollins’ premier academic scholarship.
To date, the hotel has funded approximately 90 full and 900 partial scholarships by contributing $10.8 million to the Alfond Scholars endowment.
Ed Kania, Rollins’ vice president of business and finance, estimates that from fiscal years 2024 to 2033 the hotel will generate another $19 million toward the endowment. In addition, the expansion will fund $21 million in athletic scholarships.
On an annual basis, the larger Alfond Inn by 2033 is projected to provide six more Alfond Scholarships, which cover tuition, room, and board—a value exceeding $270,000 over four years. Our Alfond Scholars’ accomplishments have matched that incredible investment.
As students, they have conducted and published original research, earned some of the world’s most prestigious fellowships, and led initiatives that made our community more connected, more sustainable, and more inclusive. Today, they are making our cities smarter, our children safer, and our world more secure as they forge meaningful lives and productive careers.
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
A boutique hotel. A business school. An art museum. Alone, three distinct entities. Together, innovation in action.
Locating the new Crummer Graduate School of Business and Rollins Museum of Art next door to The Alfond Inn—one block from Park Avenue—will create newfound synergies that advance the College and community.
At Crummer, Crown envisions a day when students in the executive program—a hybrid model with in-person classes once a month—can fly into Orlando International Airport, board the SunRail, hop off in Winter Park, and walk a few blocks east to The Innovation Triangle.
World-class hotel. Florida’s No. 1 business school. Award-winning restaurants. All in one place. No rental car required. Just a laptop and a small suitcase.
“Today’s executives want to bring their spouses and families, and they’re looking for high-end accommodations and cultural experiences,” says Crown. “An expanded Alfond Inn, combined with a new business facility and art museum, will better serve our current students and attract new executive students from across the nation and the world.”
At the Rollins Museum of Art, Heller sees great potential for co-curricular offerings that expose business students to abstract ways of thinking.
“There’s a new acknowledgment that creativity is one of the essential skills of leadership,” she says, “and you can use the arts to bring that into the spotlight. Once we’re together in the same space, we can start having those conversations on an even deeper level and see what kind of other connections can be made.”
Crown agrees, adding that an expanded Alfond Inn will help Rollins and Crummer attract larger, more influential corporate and academic conferences.
“This type of executive programming uplifts your community,” she says, “and let’s not forget that we have the region’s premier center for advanced entrepreneurship. For us to be able to attract serial entrepreneurs and top companies, we absolutely need all the elements of The Innovation Triangle.”
Hosting executives next door to an art museum, and in a hotel filled with contemporary art, will naturally lead to more tours and receptions for Heller and her staff.
“Museums tend to be intimidating for some people,” she says. “But if you have a drink at the bar, it’s not threatening. And then you become interested and ask questions and maybe come on a tour. We’re used to seeing people at The Alfond Inn have that causal interaction with the art and come to the museum for the first time. Now that we’ll be located even closer, I expect those types of encounters will only increase.”
And while The Innovation Triangle will be a major step for Rollins to prepare future classes of responsible leaders and global citizens, Crown says the ripples from this project will extend far beyond campus.
“The Innovation Triangle will advance our community through expanding access to the arts, promoting successful entrepreneurship, elevating nonprofit leadership, and providing a talent pipeline for the professional and executive leadership needed to fuel and foster economic prosperity.”
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