A School with a View

By Kristen Manieri

Photos by Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

Celebrating the bond between Rollins College and
Lake Virginia

Knowles Chapel. Photo by Laura J. Cole

The Knowles Memorial Chapel bell tower as seen from the lake rises above the tree tops as a glowing beacon, bringing to mind the College’s motto, “Fiat Lux," translated as “Let there be light.”

When the site for Rollins College was chosen 125 years ago, the founders must have understood the three most important things in real estate: location, location, location. Something Rose Mills Powers clearly appreciated when, in 1917, she penned the first words of the College’s alma mater: “Set like a gem amid the waters blue…”

Yes, indeed, the gem that is Rollins College has been charmed by its existence on the shores of Winter Park’s picturesque Lake Virginia. From day one, the spectacular lakeside locale has been a draw to students, faculty, and staff, contributing to Rollins’ reputation as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country.

Over time, however, as buildings rose to accommodate the College’s growth, the campus view of the “waters blue” became obscured—due in part to the old Dinky railroad line, which, until its demise in 1967, ran along Rollins’ lakeshore, causing many campus buildings to be positioned with their backs to the lake.

Recapturing Rollins’ lake view has been an important mission of an era of campus building and revitalization that began in the 1990s under the presidency of Rita Bornstein and continues in the new millennium under the presidency of Lewis Duncan. This fall, the College unveiled the latest in its efforts to preserve the unique relationship between lake and learning community: a complete “shore-scape” featuring lakefront boardwalk, poolside beach, native plants, and even an outdoor classroom.

Here, we invite you to take in the view—one that will reassure you the words of Rollins’ alma mater still ring true.

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