A Message from Board of Trustees Chair Rick Goings

April 22, 2024

By Rick Goings

Rick Goings, chair of the Rollins College Board of Trustees, delivers an address at commencement.
Rick Goings ’12H, chair of the Rollins College Board of TrusteesPhoto by Scott Cook.

Rick Goings ’12H, chair of the Rollins College Board of Trustees, shares more information on President Grant Cornwell’s retirement announcement and provides a first update on the search for the College’s next president.

Dear Rollins Community:

I write to follow up on President Cornwell’s announcement of his retirement in June 2025.

Since 2015, we have had the exceptionally good fortune to have Grant Cornwell at the helm of Rollins College. He has been a passionate and innovative leader for Rollins, tirelessly devoted to the College’s liberal arts mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership.

Throughout his tenure, he has spearheaded strategic initiatives that have enriched the value of a Rollins education and lifted the reputation of the College. We are especially grateful for his leadership during the pandemic, protecting the welfare of the Rollins community and sustaining the integrity of our educational mission, all with exceptional fiscal discipline.

A few of the notable milestones Rollins has achieved under President Cornwell’s tenure:

  • In 2022, Rollins celebrated the installation of the 291st chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society, further validating its identity as a liberal arts college with a clear sense of mission and a commitment to academic excellence.
  • This past fall, Rollins welcomed the most selective, academically talented, and diverse incoming class in its history, following a record number of applicants. The College was once again ranked the No. 1 regional university in the South by U.S. News & World Report, with high marks for classroom experience.
  • President Cornwell has overseen a campus transformation designed to deliver the College’s mission and elevate the student experience. He introduced Rollins Gateway, the College’s signature approach to preparing students for meaningful lives and productive careers, and the spectacular conversion of its home, Kathleen W. Rollins Hall. He guided the development of Lakeside Neighborhood and the Rollins Garage—and soon East End Neighborhood—to accommodate a three-year residency requirement capitalizing on the benefits of the living-and-learning experience. He also dedicated the long-awaited Hume House, home to the psychology department’s Child Development & Student Research Center, and the Tiedtke Theatre & Dance Centre.
  • Rollins celebrated the conclusion of its comprehensive Brighter Together fundraising campaign, surpassing the goal of $275 million by more than $18 million to provide new resources for scholarships, capital projects, and other enhancements to academic and co-curricular programs.
  • President Cornwell brought a powerful model of strategic planning to Rollins, primed to strengthen the integrity of the College’s mission, bolster its market position, and build a strong sense of shared vision. Most recently, he asked how Rollins could create a more inclusive campus environment and oversaw the development of a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategic plan. He has prioritized this ongoing work as critical in striving to ensure that every student has a sense of belonging at Rollins and in preparing every student to be successful in the world in which they will live and work.
  • President Cornwell has long been a compelling voice for academic freedom, championing the responsibility of faculty to decide what they teach and how they teach drawing on their scholarly expertise in their disciplines. This past fall, he published an op-ed in USA Today expressing the critical need for universities to protect freedom of inquiry from external influences. He recently joined a group of university presidents, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, whose mission is to strengthen American democracy through higher education by teaching all students to think critically and independently, have concern for the welfare of people of all backgrounds in their communities and across the nation, and work across differences to form a more perfect union.

I also wish to acknowledge the many contributions of Peg Cornwell, President Cornwell’s wife. Together, the Cornwells have cultivated the College’s lifelong relationship with its hometown and expanded Rollins’ presence in Greater Orlando. Peg has often been the face of Rollins with its community partners, chairing the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and serving on the boards of WMFE (now Central Florida Public Media), Winter Park Day Nursery, and Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

We are indebted to President Cornwell for his exceptional leadership, service, and dedication. He has led Rollins to a position of higher regard, financial well-being, and even greater excellence and potential. He has also restored trust in shared governance and fostered a renewed commitment to mission. We will honor these accomplishments as we embark on the next chapter in the history of Rollins.

The Board of Trustees is committed to a thoughtful and deliberative search for Rollins’ next president. We have retained the services of Storbeck Search, the leading firm in executive search for the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, and trustee Orlando Evora ’82 has accepted the responsibility of chairing the search committee. Further details will be available soon. During the forthcoming presidential transition, it is our intention to keep the Rollins community informed of the search’s progress.

Rick Goings ’12H
Chair, Rollins College Board of Trustees

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