Elisabeth, Robert, and Daniel Flynn. Photo by Judy Watson Tracy.

Generation Next

Rollins is a family tradition for these alumni and students

By Leigh Perkins Brown
Photos by Judy Watson Tracy

Can a college receive any higher compliment than having multiple generations of a family fall in love with it?

“I feel very deeply and passionately about Rollins,” said John Attwell ’80, whose daughter, Petersen, is a first-year student at Rollins. “I wanted Petersen to experience it and I do hope one of my children’s children will go to Rollins too. It’s a great tradition.”

Legacy stats for students enrolled in the Arts & Sciences program, 2009-2010. Total number of legacy students: 295.

The Attwells are one of a long line of families who have sent multiple generations to Rollins. Approximately 9 percent of first-year students at four-year colleges are legacies. Rollins’ rate is slightly higher at 13 percent. “That so many Rollins families want to continue their relationship with their college is an exceptional point of pride,” said Rollins president Lewis Duncan.

“The commitment of legacy families is a vibrant thread in the life of the College,” said Elizabeth Francetic, director of alumni relations. Parents of legacy students, for example, may provide additional financial support and often serve their alma mater in various ways, including as members of the Alumni Association board, the Board of Trustees, the Parents Council, and the President’s Leadership Council.

Alumni with a historic tie to a college—especially those with a cross-generational relationship to the school—are also enthusiastic recruiters. And, students who have a personal connection to the campus bring feeling of loyalty, tradition, and identity to the student body.

“I love having the sense that I’m walking right where my dad walked, where my brother walked,” said first-year student Elisabeth Flynn, whose brother, Robert, is a 2010 graduate and whose father, Dan, is an alumnus. “I love that we all did this together, even though it was a generation apart.”

“It’s an extraordinary phenomenon,” said President Duncan. “Each generation sees the College through its own lens and forms its own memories, but they all share their affection for Rollins.”

Daniel Flynn ’80 ’83MBA, son Robert ’10,
& daughter Elisabeth ’13

Dan Flynn says returning to Rollins is almost an out-of-body experience. “It’s all right there, all those good times. I have to catch myself when I start reminiscing too much with my kids. I want them to make their own memories.” Elisabeth and Robert are on it, full-time.

Hometown:  Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Majors:  Business (Dan); economics (Robert); psychology or education (Elisabeth)

Origin of the legacy:  It was a fluke: A good friend of Coach Boyd Coffie ’59 ’64MAT ate at Dan’s father’s restaurant in Lenox, Mass. and told Dan he should look into Rollins if he was interested in playing baseball (he made the team as a walk-on and played all four years). (Dan’s sister, Sheri Flynn ’86, and her husband, Phil Baruch ’87, also graduated from Rollins.)

Legacy pressure?  Dad exerted no coercion, but he was “more than happy” when they got into Rollins.

Biggest change in 30 years:  “The tuition,” Dan joked. “As a full-pay parent of two students, I definitely wish the tuition was the same as it was 30 years ago.”

Common bond:  The cafeteria staff. “I had a great relationship with the cafeteria staff, which came in handy when we had ‘steak’ night every Friday. When I returned 25 years later with Robert, a couple of the same folks were still working there and actually remembered me. Both my kids have taken the time to be nice to the cafeteria staff and that can provide some nice benefits when you want an extra dessert!”

Generation gap:  “My kids are connected 24/7 to their friends. In my day we had more down time to relax. There was no technology to hunt you down,” Dan said. 

Sweet spot:  Dock on the lake behind McKean Hall (Dan); the Alfond Pool (Robert); Dianne’s Café in the Rice Family Bookstore (Elisabeth)

Flashback:  Elisabeth’s Introduction to Theatre professor was Charles Rodgers, who also taught her father the same course 30 years ago.

Token from home:  Robert and Elisabeth only took dad’s stories with them, which Dan believes makes them feel more connected to Rollins’ history. 

The workaday:
Senior vice president for People’s United Bank (Dan); “I already got a job with Fidelity Investments as an investment banker.” (Robert); working with children as either a psychologist or teacher (Elisabeth)

Unforgettable: “Beating Florida Southern. Boyd Coffie wanted it to happen so badly and we did it. That’s about as memorable as it gets.” (Dan); “Fox Day, definitely—heading to the beach and then having the barbecue on the lawn.” (Robert); “Discovering my professor knew about my dad in such detail and remembered him so well all these years later. That really stuck with me.” (Elisabeth)

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