19 Reasons Rollins is America’s Most Beautiful Campus

August 25, 2020

By Audrey St. Clair ’03

One of the many archways and courtyards on the Rollins College campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins is continually named one of the country’s best college campuses for everything from our lakeside location to our timeless architecture. Explore all that and more as we celebrate the many layers of Rollins’ beauty.

A coveted location on the shores of glistening Lake Virginia. Mighty live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Bougainvillea-draped courtyards leading to sprawling lawns peppered with timeless Spanish-Mediterranean architecture. These are just a few of the many ways Mother Nature has graced us with her bounty, consistently earning Rollins the moniker of America’s most beautiful campus by everyone from The Princeton Review and Niche to most recently Cosmopolitan and Condé Nast Traveler.

From outdoor classrooms and iconic landmarks to state-of-the-art spaces designed for 21st-century living and learning, here are 19 of our favorite ways the beauty of America’s most beautiful campus runs deep.

Aerial view of Rollins College, frequently ranked as one of America’s most beautiful college campuses.
Photo by Scott Cook.

1. A Perfect Perch

In the sophisticated small town of Winter Park just outside Orlando, the No. 1 regional university in the South sits on an inviting stretch of shoreline right on Lake Virginia, where year-round residents include epic sunsets and lots of sunshine.

Aerial view of Lakeside Neighborhood, a 250-square-foot residential facility.
Photo by Scott Cook.

2. Lakeside Living

Speaking of Lake Virginia, Rollins’ newest lakeside draw is the residential complex taking shape along the southeastern shoreline of campus. Planned to open this fall, Lakeside Neighborhood is a 250,000-square-foot, five-story facility that promises to set a new standard for liberal arts living—one focused on community, health, and well-being.

Students walking along one of the many brick pathways on Rollins’ campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

3. Pathways Aplenty

Getting around campus means walking or skateboarding or biking or jogging the many meandering sidewalks that are flanked by live oaks and cypress trees dappled with the nearly ever-present Florida sunshine.

Students walking past Olin Library.
Photo by Scott Cook.

4. Access to Knowledge

With views of Lake Virginia and the rest of campus, the Olin Library is an integral part of the instructional, intellectual, and cultural life at Rollins, and you don’t even have to be on campus to tap into its many resources. Tars can access a large portion of Olin Library’s extensive collections virtually, which adds up to nearly a quarter of a million books, more than 113,000 audiovisuals, nearly 160,000 serials, and 96 databases.

The glass-walled atrium of Bush Science Center.
Photo by Scott Cook.

5. Dynamic Designs

Our state-of-the-art, LEED-certified Bush Science Center is designed to let the outside in, featuring three-story, floor-to-ceiling windows in the atrium, where the collaborative exchange of ideas is the order of the day (along with Starbucks coffee at the Bush Cafe). This social and intellectual hub boasts a total of 134 exterior windows and features multiple heat-recovery wheels that allow the College to save up to 70 percent of the energy associated with heating, cooling, and dehumidification.

Knowles Memorial Chapel and the Annie Russell Theatre connected by an arch-lined corridor.
Photo by Scott Cook.

6. Living History

The Knowles Memorial Chapel—whose tower was modeled after the campanile of the Toledo Cathedral in Spain—is a sacred spot that invites those of all faiths to gather for worship and reflection. Connected to the chapel by one of Rollins’ signature corridors, the Annie Russell Theatre is the longest continually running theater in Florida and home base of one of the nation’s best undergraduate theater programs.

Students play with their dog on the porch of Pinehurst Cottage, the oldest building on campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

7. Enduring Impact

Built in 1886, the picturesque Pinehurst Cottage is the only remaining original structure from the founding days of Rollins and has served as a co-ed residence hall since the mid-1980s. This independent-minded living and learning community is home to students from all majors and backgrounds who share a dedication to social change. The cottage’s landmark front porch hosts some of the College’s most beloved events, like Politics on the Porch, a bipartisan effort aimed at building awareness around local politics.

Rollins’ outdoor classroom is perfect for year-round classes in our near-perpetual sunny weather.
Photo by Scott Cook.

8. Open-Air Learning

With 236 days of sunshine a year, classes at Rollins aren’t confined to indoor spaces. Outdoor classrooms—like this one outside Orlando Hall—are open all year long and easily accommodate our small classes while encouraging roundtable discussions. Come fall, we’ll be adding more outdoor classrooms to the mix, including the beach volleyball court, the Bush Science Center lawn, and the patio outside the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

Students walking along the shoreline of Lake Virginia under the cypress trees.
Photo by Scott Cook.

9. A Room with a View

Sustainability Program coordinators and members of EcoRollins get to wake up to this view every morning from their very own EcoHouse. This group of environmental stewards lives in and takes care of this space on the back side of Elizabeth Hall overlooking Lake Virginia, participating in gardening, road and lake cleanups, planned events such as Earth Day, and environmental and sustainable education on campus.

One of Rollins’ signature archways on campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

10. Gateway to Greatness

Located at the intersection of Fairbanks and Interlachen avenues, this welcoming gateway is one of several at Rollins that invites you to enter America’s most beautiful campus and discover all we have to offer. The concept of a gateway—as a pivotal point on one’s life journey—extends to our signature brand of liberal arts education that prepares students for meaningful lives and productive careers. Rollins Gateway combines our interdisciplinary curriculum combined with high-impact experiences outside the classroom and an integrated mentorship model, creating a personalized pathway that empowers students to chart their own course to personal and professional success.

Photos by Scott Cook.

11. Outdoor Oasis

From lakeside gazebos and our very own white-sand beach to sun-dappled courtyards and lakeside balconies, our unique outdoor spaces encourage both individual study and engaged collaboration.

Students drawing plants for art class in Rollins’ very own greenhouse.
Photo by Scott Cook.

12. Greenhouse Gains

Home to everything from cacti and orchids to Venus fly traps and cocoa plants, Rollins’ greenhouse provides plant material for lab experiments and augments class discussions in fields such as medicinal botany, genetics, biology, and field botany. Soon it will take up new residence on the third floor of the Bush Science Center to make way for Lakeside Neighborhood.

Photos by Scott Cook.

13. Dining Redesigned

Skillman Dining Hall—which offers both in and outside seating—is fresh off a floor-to-ceiling makeover that includes a new wood-burning pizza oven, dedicated food stations, and an open-concept layout. Our dining staff is hard at work implementing mobile food-ordering apps, rearranging in-person seating, and packaging chef-prepared pre-packaged meals to ensure that all Tars have access to healthy food while staying safe as we face the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students walking on campus as the yellow trumpet trees are in bloom.
Photo by Scott Cook.

14. In Bloom

Tars mark their calendars each year for the dawning of spring when the bright-yellow tabebuia trees burst into bloom on campus near the newly renovated Rice Family Pavilion. Often called trumpet trees because of the shape of their flowers, these ephemeral beauties dazzle us from February to April. Other indigenous flora adorning campus includes longleaf pines, jacaranda trees, and the rare corpse plant.

Photos by Scott Cook.

15. Twilight Treasures

Some of the most captivating scenes at Rollins appear when the sun heads off to sleep, revealing the splendor of our signature hues of blue and gold as they blanket the water, the sky, and the iconic steeple of Knowles Chapel.

View of Rollins College campus from Lake Virginia.
Photo by Scott Cook.

16. Daytime Delights

The daytime view of campus from the lake isn’t half bad either. Getting out onto beautiful Lake Virginia is as easy as grabbing a quick paddleboard session in between classes or launching a canoe or kayak right from shore.

The exterior of Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, the College’s headquarters of applied learning.
Photo by Scott Cook.

17. Apex of Action

Kathleen W. Rollins Hall officially opened its doors in January, ushering in a new era of applied liberal arts learning at Rollins. Replacing Mills Memorial Hall in the center of campus, the state-of-the-art facility—built seamlessly into our Spanish-Mediterranean signature style—is a hive of student activity and engagement designed around convenience and collaboration.

Group yoga class on Mills Lawn.
Photo by Scott Cook.

18. Motivation to Move

Yogis perfecting their poses on Bush Lawn is just one of the many ways Tars use the sprawling green spaces on campus to stay active. Think impromptu games of frisbee golf on Mills Lawn and jump-rope sessions along the lake, to name a few. No doubt opportunities for outdoor recreation abound on America’s most beautiful campus.

Students walk past the rose garden on commencement day.
Photo by Scott Cook.

19. A Rosy Future

Each year as our graduates walk past the beloved Virginia S. Nelson Rose Garden on their way to the commencement stage, they represent a powerful symbol of both new beginnings and poignant endings. They now stand prepared to leave Rollins in pursuit of their meaningful lives and productive careers, putting their liberal arts education into action as global citizens and responsible leaders poised to make the world a better place.

A screen grab from Rollins’ virtual campus tour.

Take a Virtual Tour

From our picturesque setting to the state-of-the art facilities, take a virtual tour and find out why Rollins is consistently ranked among the nation’s best college campuses.

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