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Winter Park Institute under new management

The Winter Park Institute is an initiative formerly run by Rollins College that seeks to bring the community together through lectures and readings on the arts, science, humanities, and literature. Ever since its creation in 2007 by former Rollins President Lewis Duncan, the program brought well-known leaders to the Rollins campus to host seminars about their experiences. Such individuals included Sir Paul McCartney, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Paul Simon. These events continue to be held under Rollins’ control until 2020.  

Rollins’ Vice President for Communications & External Relations Sam Stark said, “Over time, the cost of securing speakers increased while the campus community attendance decreased. That data led us to conclude that the return on investment for Rollins Students was not beneficial.”  

Rollins College decided to move away from the project and gave the program over to the Winter Park Publishing Company. During the transfer to the Winter Park Publishing Company, the program was turned into a non-profit organization. Then in 2022, it was turned over to Lauren Zimmerman and the Winter Park Bookstore who turned the Winter Park Institute into what it is today. 

Tony Jenkin, the current chairman of the Winter Park Institute, said, “We really wanted to continue the legacy of great speakers, but it was now not done under the auspices of Rollins College even though the school is very much still interested and active [with the Institute].” 

When Rollins College ran the speaker series, events were held 4 times a year. The events focused on bringing a well-known individual to campus to speak about topics in the arts, science, humanities and literature. The Winter Park Institute has shifted their focus to community dialogues about pressing issues in the community and topics that the community has interesting in learning about. They want the community to contribute and actively participate with the Institute. To engage with the Winter Park community, the Winter Park Institute plans to collaborate with the City of Winter Park to host exclusive events.  

Tony Jenkins said, “we are very excited about this new winter park institute that we are bringing in the community. We’re grateful of the legacy that Rollins has started, and we just want to continue the legacy through a broader array of programming and forums. We definitely want the community, Rollins College, Winter Park and Central Florida to support us.” 

On April 12, the Winter Park Institute will hold their next event: a panel on “A.I. Across Creative Frontiers” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.  

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