A Conversation with the President

Rollins’ 14th President Lewis Duncan

Lewis Duncan. Photo by Brian Blanco.

In September, Rollins celebrated its designation as an Ashoka Changemaker Campus—one of only 30 colleges or universities that will be selected, confirming Rollins’ position as a leader in applying the promise of education to the challenges of social change. Rollins Magazine asked President Lewis Duncan what being a Changemaker Campus will mean to Rollins.

Q: How does being a Changemaker Campus fit Rollins’ mission? 

A: At Rollins, we are committed to educating for global citizenship and responsible leadership. In support of that commitment, Ashoka Changemakers work together to employ critical and creative thinking to generate solutions to the world’s most serious problems—it’s liberal education in action.

Q: How does the Changemaker Campus effort coordinate with Rollins’ community engagement program?

A: Being a Changemaker Campus is an evolution of our community engagement activities. Micki Meyer, Lord Family Director of Community Engagement, has described it as the “next chapter of a great history of the applied liberal arts.” Today’s Rollins students are seeking ways they can combine contributing to the greater good with building successful careers. Social entrepreneurship offers just such opportunity.

Q: What is social entrepreneurship?

A: Social entrepreneurs employ the same innovative thinking practiced by business entrepreneurs, but applied to social issues. Like business entrepreneurs, their results can define new systems or redefine old ones, but the bottom line is focused on developing successful solutions.

Q: What’s the sustainability component?

A: A successful solution must be sustainable, both environmentally and economically. Sustainable change ensures our efforts can have a lasting impact, without deferring today’s greatest social challenges to future generations.

Q: How does Rollins help prepare promising social entrepreneurs?

A: Rollins’ Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability initiative (SESi), the foundation of the College’s campaign to become a Changemaker Campus, provides learning resources and opportunities to experience social entrepreneurship on the ground. Students across the institution can engage in internships, conferences, retreats, and immersion trips, all preparing them to bring ideas into practice.

For example, a pilot program with the U.S. Department of State, Tupperware Brands Corporation, and the Crummer School has brought a female professor from an Iraqi university to study entrepreneurship at Crummer, followed by an “externship” with Tupperware. When she returns to Iraq, she will teach her women students the principles she’s learned here so they can contribute to Iraq’s economic recovery.

Q: What else is Rollins pursuing in support of the College’s mission to educate for global citizenship and responsible leadership?

A: Earlier this year, The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement called on colleges to incorporate civic knowledge, skills, and values into their learning expectations. Rollins’ Democracy Project adopted these goals and is developing initiatives to raise civic literacy and engagement in the Rollins community. The recent election offered opportunities for the College to serve as a forum for discussing a variety of issues and viewpoints.

Q: That recalls your Installation Address where you spoke of private liberal arts colleges’ “essential role in preserving the ideals of a democratic society.”

A: My challenge to “rise up to the call for societal leadership and active citizenship” still stands. Every member of the Rollins community can be a changemaker. This purpose represents both our historical past and our aspirational future.