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Cornwell announces plan to retire as Rollins president in 2025

Inauguration, Grant Cornwell, PhD. Photo: Scott Cook
Scott Cook
Inauguration, Grant Cornwell, PhD. Photo: Scott Cook

The president of Rollins College has announced he will retire in 2025, after a decade of leading the private college in Winter Park.

Grant Cornwell announced Tuesday that he will retire in June 2025, after having been at the helm of Rollins College since 2015.

Rollins Trustee Rick Goings said under Cornwell the university had its most selective and diverse incoming class yet, with a record number of applicants.

Inauguration of President Cornwell at Rollins College. Photos: Scott Cook
Scott Cook
Inauguration of President Cornwell at Rollins College. Photos: Scott Cook

“There were 10,000 applications for 600 Freshmen openings. That is selective, okay,” Goings said, laughing.

Rollins Vice President of Academic Affairs Don Davison said Cornwell’s legacy also includes growing both the economic stability and academic rigor of the college.

“He led a very successful capital campaign. We have constructed new buildings and renovated others. We have had robust enrollments and increased and improving selectivity. Two years ago, the college installed a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, which is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society in the liberal arts," Davison said.

But Davison said it's the culture and the environment that Cornwell instilled on campus that he'll be remembered for.

scott cook photography 561-252-3
Grant Cornwell with students on Fox Day.

“When Grant came to the campus 10 years ago, he reminded the faculty and the students that the primary identity, actually the founding identity of Rollins College, is we are devoted to providing a high quality liberal arts education for our students,” Davison said. “And that has governed and defined the institution since ‘85."

“And Grant, refocused, re-dedicated our attention and our energy on our fundamental mission, you know, which is liberal arts education for our students and preparing our students to be responsible citizens in a world of turmoil.”

Before coming to Rollins, Cornwell was the president of the College of Wooster and the vice president of academic affairs and a philosophy professor at St. Lawrence University.

Trustee Rick Goings whose putting together the search committee to find Cornwell's replacement said it's no easy fete, especially since Cornwell's wife Peg has meant so much to the campus as well.

"I think firstly, we had a huge secret weapon that he brought, we knew, we heard she was good. But Peg, his wife has been such a fabulous part of this whole administration. And you hardly hear people talk about Grant that they don't try to find a way to also mention Peg," Goings said.

Here are just a few of Cornwell's accomplishments according to the college:

  • "turning a 1950s library building into Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, home of the newly launched Rollins Gateway
  • the installation of the 291st chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society in the liberal arts
  • transition of the College’s Hamilton Holt School to reorient its offerings to better meet the needs of working adults and returning students
  • reimagination of curricular focus and delivery in the Crummer Graduate School of Business
  • development and implementation of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Strategic Plan to foster inclusivity and diversity and empower students, faculty, and staff to reach their fullest potential
  • expansion of The Alfond Inn, the College’s Winter Park hotel, distinguished by its philanthropic mission, which directs all net operating income to scholarships"

Read more about Cornwell here.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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