Alfond Gift Powers a Triple Play
September 01, 2011
By Lorrie Kyle Ramey
The Harold Alfond Foundation awarded a grant of $12.5 million—the largest single gift in Rollins’ history—for construction of The Alfond Inn at Rollins.
Rollins College’s mission has long embraced the core institutional values of excellence, innovation, and community. The largest single gift in College history combines these principles in a unique philanthropic package that is capturing national attention.
In 2008, Rollins College trustees identified a series of strategic priorities, pinpointing key objectives such as strengthening alumni relations, building the endowment, and expanding the College’s international footprint—both on campus and abroad. The priority deemed most difficult to achieve, but with the capacity for highest impact, was development of a conference center that would permit Rollins to host national academic meetings, as well as local symposiums, showcasing the College and its outstanding faculty and staff. The added benefit of a convenient hotel for visiting parents, alumni, and prospective students and their families only heightened the need.
The following spring, the College had the opportunity to purchase property on the southeast corner of Interlachen and Lyman Avenues, adjacent to its Samuel B. Lawrence Center, after plans for construction of a new hostelry on the site of the former Langford Hotel did not proceed. Land in hand, the College began the process of defining what the facility should be, conducting visioning sessions with College constituents and community leaders, and preparing to select a developer-operator for its new inn.
Enter trustee Ted Alfond ’68 with an entrepreneurial proposal. If the College could secure a gift that would permit it to retain ownership of the hotel—and the net operating profit, those funds could be directed to an endowment for scholarships. Rollins President Lewis Duncan immediately recognized the potential for the value of the initial gift to multiply exponentially.
In December 2010, The Harold Alfond Foundation awarded a grant of $12.5 million—the largest single gift in Rollins’ history—for construction of The Alfond Inn at Rollins. Revenue from The Alfond Inn will flow to the Alfond Scholars Fund, where it will accumulate for 25 years or until the endowment reaches $50 million, whichever is later, guaranteeing principal of at least quadruple the amount of the grant.
“The unique structure will fund a key strategic project, provide annual financial assistance to deserving student scholars, and contribute significantly to our long-term endowment growth,” said President Duncan. “It’s a triple win for the College.”
The Alfond Scholars will be selected on the same competitive basis as the College’s current Cornell Scholars, who receive full tuition, room, and board. The Cornell Scholars initiative was launched in 2005 to enroll a cadre of students with exceptional academic qualifications and leadership qualities. As with other experimental initiatives seeded by discretionary funds made available by the generous bequest of George D. Cornell ’35 ’85H, it has been President Duncan’s intention to find an alternate, permanent source of funding for the Cornell Scholars program.
The Alfond name is well known on the Rollins campus. Since 1973, Harold Alfond helped to assure that Rollins athletic facilities matched the caliber of Rollins student-athletes. The Alfond Swimming Pool was followed by the Alfond Baseball Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field (1984), the Alfond Boathouse (1990), and the Harold & Ted Alfond Sports Center (2001), a joint gift with son Ted.
Nearly 60 years before Harold Alfond’s death in 2007, he and his wife established the first private foundation in Maine. The extraordinary philanthropist, founder of Dexter Shoe Company, part owner of the Boston Red Sox, and father of two Rollins graduates (Ted and Peter ’75) was presented an honorary doctorate by the College in 1997. Alfond’s legacy of generosity also continues in his children. Ted and his wife, Barbara ’68, have endowed the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Chair of English, while Peter has created an endowment for athletic scholarships, and all three have contributed support for a variety of College programs.
“My father was a businessman who liked entrepreneurial, creative ideas—and this project is both,” commented Ted Alfond. “Rollins will capitalize on a commercial opportunity to fund student scholarships. As the Inn achieves business success, the scholarship program’s impact will continue to grow.”
As envisioned, The Alfond Inn at Rollins will offer 110 guest rooms, 9,000 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant, and a small lounge. The site permits expansion if The Alfond Inn is as successful as the College and Winter Park residents anticipate. Earlier this year, The Olympia Companies, which operates hotel properties at the University of Virginia and Colby College, and is developing others at the University of Chicago, Duke University Medical Center, and Bowdoin College, was selected to develop and operate The Alfond Inn. Groundbreaking is slated for the fall of 2011, with the opening of the facility projected for the summer of 2013.
The Alfond Inn at Rollins promises to embody a fresh interpretation of the College’s historic commitment to excellence, innovation, and community: a high-quality project, made possible by a novel gift, for the benefit of Rollins and Winter Park. “My father would have loved it,” said Ted Alfond.
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