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President of Rollins College Announces Retirement Following a Decade of Service and Innovation

Press Release by: Rollins College

Winter Park, Fla. (April 23, 2024) – Rollins College announced President Grant Cornwell’s retirement in June 2025 after ten years of exemplary leadership and dedicated service.   


“Since 2015, we have had the exceptional good fortune to have Grant Cornwell at the helm of Rollins College,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rick Goings in a statement to the Rollins community. “President Cornwell has been a passionate and innovative leader, tirelessly devoted to the College’s liberal arts mission to educate students for global citizenship and responsible leadership.”  


This past fall, Rollins welcomed the most selective, academically talented, and diverse incoming class in its history, following a record number of applicants. U.S. News & World Report once again ranked Rollins the No. 1 regional university in the South, and the classroom experience was ranked among the top 25 in the nation.  


“President Cornwell provided thoughtful and steady leadership during an era of dramatic change in higher education. A liberal arts education has never been more relevant, and Grant has overseen a renewed commitment to the College’s mission, strengthening our academic excellence and rigor,” said Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Provost Don Davison.   


Throughout his tenure, Cornwell spearheaded numerous strategic initiatives and capital projects to enrich students’ lives and educational experiences, transforming the Rollins campus in the process. A 1950s library building was refashioned to become Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, home of the newly launched Rollins Gateway, a signature program to prepare students for meaningful lives and productive careers. Lakeside Neighborhood created a new model for residential colleges.      


Additional milestones of the Cornwell presidency include 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; and expansion of The Alfond Inn, the College’s Winter Park hotel, distinguished by its philanthropic mission, which directs all net operating income to scholarships.   


“Grant has transformed Rollins in ways that will be felt for years to come,” said Board of Trustees member Ted Alfond. “I have witnessed his innovative approach to unique opportunities and projects that have enhanced the College, as well as the Winter Park community.”  


After eight years as president of The College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, Cornwell took office as president of Rollins. Previously, he was vice president of academic affairs and professor of philosophy at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.  


Cornwell graduated with honors from St. Lawrence University with majors in philosophy and biology. He received his M.A. and Ph.D., also in philosophy, from the University of Chicago. Both St. Lawrence and The College of Wooster have awarded him honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.  


In addition to a body of scholarship defining liberal learning in a global environment, Cornwell’s research and teaching throughout his career have focused on issues of racial justice and multicultural democracies.  He has served on the boards of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and as chair of AAC&U’s Presidents’ Trust, a national advocacy group for advancing liberal education. Cornwell has also been a compelling voice for academic freedom. Last year, he joined The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, whose mission is to advance free inquiry, free speech, and diversity of thought as essential principles for institutions of higher learning and democracies.  

Cornwell will remain in office until June 2025. As Rollins begins a national search for its next president, the College remains committed to building on Cornwell’s legacy and continuing its tradition of excellence in higher education. Information on the search can be found at www.rollins.edu/president

About Rollins College:  

Founded in 1885, Rollins College is Florida’s oldest college. Located in Winter Park, near Orlando, Rollins is consistently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Rollins offers full-time undergraduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts and undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working professionals and adult learners through its evening program at the Hamilton Holt School. In addition, its Crummer Graduate School of Business features top-ranked MBA programs and Florida’s first accredited Executive Doctorate in Business Administration. Rollins serves approximately 3,200 degree-seeking students annually. 

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