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Holt School names new Dean after 2-year search

After an almost two-year search, Robert Sanders has officially been named dean of the Hamilton Holt School. Sanders will start the position on June 1.

In this new position, Sanders’ main goal is to build upon the reputation of the Hamilton Holt School and ensure that each adult learner receives equal services that the school has to offer. His mission is to engage in conversation by listening and talking to Rollins’ students, faculty, and staff. 

Sanders wants to motivate students both in and out of the classroom by encouraging them to partake in social events or opportunities on campus. “I want to work on embedding the foundational areas of Rollins, like service learning and community engagement,” said Sanders. 

Regarding increasing the Hamilton Holt retention rate, Sanders said he wants to understand what challenges the Holt students face, as well as relate them to his previous occupation as the associate dean of graduate studies at Appalachian State University (ASU). “I am knowledgeable about some of those [challenges], like family and work responsibilities, but I hope to expand upon it,” said Sanders. 

He also wants to ensure that Rollins promotes the courses that align with each Holt student’s major, which will help them succeed and encourage them to continue another year at Rollins.

Sanders lit up with enthusiasm when talking about his interest in bridging the gap and creating a sense of community between the College of Liberal Arts and Hamilton Holt students.

“Needless to say, having opportunities for people to connect is essential in motivating students and dealing with retention,” said Sanders. “I want to talk to students and those who work with students to understand what may be impactful in building those connections.”

There are a variety of ways that Sanders hopes to build upon connections and community. “We must recognize that they are Holt students and community can be built, whether that is through social events, having them participate on committees, or involved with community engagement.” 

In his previous role as the associate dean of graduate studies at ASU, he was most proud of creating an accelerated admissions program and working with study away programs. 

ASU’s accelerated admissions program allows undergraduate students who want to pursue graduate school to take graduate courses during their senior year. With this program, students are able to finish their undergraduate course requirements and get ahead on required courses needed for graduate school. 

“This program creates lifelong learners. It was based on professional development to provide that framework to grow and become successful,” said Sanders. 

Four years ago, Sanders began working with interdisciplinary study away programs. These programs allow for the university to, as Sanders put it, “train the trainer,” as faculty and staff are taken to various sustainable communities or islands. Instead of a longer study abroad program, study away programs allow for faculty and students to further understand how students learn through simulations. Sanders said it included issues like immigration and diversity and inclusion.

Sanders was initially attracted to Rollins because of its reputation and interest in adult education. He is looking forward to learning all about life at Rollins, including Fox Day. His Fox Day prediction was April 1, which was his wife’s birthday.

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