$10 million donor hopes to empower

Courtesy of Kathleen W. Rollins
Kathleen W. Rollins poses with her husband, Gary Rollins, CEO of Rollins, Inc.

Mills Memorial Hall has been renamed Kathleen W. Rollins Hall after the Rollins Board of Trustees member gifted $10 million toward the building’s renovation. She was part of the graduating class of 1975 with a degree in behavioral science, and she was elected to the board in May 2018. 

During her years at the college, Rollins was active in the Chi Omega sorority. She  currently serves as the executive director of the Gary W. Rollins Foundation, which supports children’s health, education, and arts.

But what else should students know about her? The Sandspur asked Rollins some questions ranging from her favorite campus memories to what she wants her impact to be.

Q: What is your history with Rollins College? 

A: In the Summer of ’72, I was attending the University of Hawaii taking summer classes in Southern Literature and Hula. At that time, my mother was anxious for me to transfer from the University of Georgia to another school. She had heard about Rollins from a friend, so she and my sister made a trip to Winter Park. They convinced the registrar to find me a spot in the Fall class. My transcripts were quickly provided, and without an admission interview or typical college visit, I started my junior year at Rollins College.

Q: Why is Rollins College important to you?

A: I entered Rollins at a point in my life when I was discovering that there were very different points of view, lifestyles, ways of thinking, etc. than what I had experienced growing up in a small town in Georgia and attending a traditional southern university. At Rollins, I found acceptance from like-minded people as well as many more exciting questions, answers, and possibilities. I was inspired by professors and other students to think out of the box and to imagine possibilities not previously considered. I just seemed to “fit” well at Rollins.

Q: How has Rollins impacted your life and career?

A: The small classroom experience and the senior research requirement would later motivate me to pursue a master’s degree, which fast-tracked my career. My resume was very weak in the job history area; however, graduating from Rollins and the advanced degree and research experience put me in a better position to compete in the job market. I was able to pursue high-level management positions, which typically would have required years of experience. At Rollins, I was able to develop friends and mentors from other cultures and even geography not previously enjoyed. I think the Rollins experience made me a better person, student, and executive.

Q: What is a fond memory from your time spent at Rollins?

A: The most memorable occasion was when my sorority sisters and I stole the X-Club flag. I crawled into the second story window of the X-Club house and took their flag, but I put my elbow through the glass window and cut myself. I had to go to the hospital and get stitches. Knowing the guys would be looking for someone with a bandage (I had left a broken window and a bloody trail), I wore long sleeve blouses for several days to classes and the “beanery.” [Editor’s Note: Students used to call the dining hall “the beanery.”] We became so bored with their inability to catch us that we drove my car around the horseshoe blowing the horn with the flag hanging out the window.

Q: What do you hope your gift achieves?

A: I want all students to have the opportunity to participate in the new Career and Life Planning programs, which will now be available at the Kathleen W. Rollins Hall. It is very important to me that students pursue and achieve their full potential as a result of their experiences and education at Rollins. It is imperative that students not only be empowered to successfully compete in today’s job market, but also be encouraged and prepared to become responsible citizens.

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