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From Rollins to Richmond: 2 faculty members start next chapter

Dean Jennifer Cavenaugh began her career at Rollins as a professor in the Theatre & Dance Department. (Photo by Alexander Knobloch)

Jennifer (Jenny) Jones Cavenaugh, dean of Faculty and Winifred M. Warden Endowed chair of Theatre & Dance, and her husband Greg Cavenaugh, lecturer of Communication, are bidding the Rollins community a bittersweet farewell. 

After 17 years of lasting contributions to the college, Jennifer Cavenaugh and Greg Cavenaugh will head to the University of Richmond, a private liberal arts college in VA. Jennifer Cavenaugh is set to be the next dean of the University of Richmond’s School of Arts & Sciences. Greg Cavenaugh will be a visiting assistant professor in the Rhetoric & Communication Studies Department.

“I could happily stay, but I guess there was this question of ‘do I have another adventure in me? Are there ways that I can use my skills and talents in ways that I haven’t yet?’” Jennifer Cavenaugh said.

She is no stranger to the benefits and virtues of a liberal arts education. She said that Rollins encourages mentorship and learning, both in and out of the classroom, because “faculty will go to the ends of the earth for their students. Richmond, in many ways, shares the qualities that make Rollins so special.”

Jennifer Cavenaugh began her career at Rollins as a professor in the Theatre & Dance Department. For seven years, she taught classes such as theater history and dramatic literature, in addition to directing musicals. 

After she transitioned from teaching to administrative work, she continued to bolster the arts from her position. One of her favorite Rollins memories was directing Hello, Dolly! in 2016, alongside music professor Jamey Ray and in collaboration with the Music Department.

Jennifer Cavenaugh has a deep appreciation for musical expression at Rollins and beyond. “Theater and art are the emotional records of our time,” she said. 

As a self-proclaimed feminist theater historian, Cavenaugh said she is looking forward to delving into the rich artistic and cultural history of her new campus. 

Dr. Greg Cavenaugh pioneered the development of the communications major for CLA students in 2012. (Photo by Alexander Knobloch)

Greg Cavenaugh shares the dean’s deep appreciation for Rollins, especially for his colleagues and advisees he has mentored over the years. He came to Rollins as a spousal hire, obtaining a job at a time when there was no communications major in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). In 2012, he successfully pioneered the development of the communications major for CLA students. His background is centered on rhetoric, performance, and public speaking, and he is “thrilled to have the opportunity to specialize in this at Richmond.” 

Additionally, Greg and Jennifer Cavenaugh have worked to propel the Rollins mission of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on campus. Greg Cavenaugh was the coach of the Diversity Council from 2015 to 2017. He was also the recipient of the Presidential Award for Diversity and Inclusion in 2013. 

Jennifer Cavenaugh said she is most gratified to watch “the intentionality with which the college is now approaching inclusion, equity and diversity. These were conversations that were not really happening when I first came, and now they’re happening all the time, and all over.”

The Cavenaughs have helped shape the intellectual and artistic landscape of Rollins, and they will be sorely missed by their students and colleagues. 

Dr. Emily Russell, former associate dean of Academics and English professor, said, “I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to truly count the number of lessons I learned from working with Dean Cavenaugh. Every day she taught me the value of picking one’s battles, viewing others with generosity and not suspicion, and the importance of really listening.”

Dr. Anne Stone in Communications echoed Russell’s sentiments: “Dr. Greg Cavenaugh is an incredible teacher and a kind and supportive colleague. He is thoughtful, with a keen sense of humor that lightens any meeting. His guidance and support have been invaluable,” Stone said.

Although Jennifer Cavenaugh is from New York, she chuckled and expressed her aversion to cold weather. “I’ll have to invest in some closed toe shoes and winter coats,” she said. 

Greg Cavenaugh said he is excited to smell the “wood smoke in late October” and live closer to his father.

The Cavenaughs will remain on campus until June. Although they may be joining the University of Richmond to become Spiders, they will forever be Tars in our hearts.

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