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The Hollins Campaign for Women Who Are Going Places




Donor Love Stories


Shortly before the campaign began, Texas businessman and philanthropist Robert T. Priddy and his brother, Charles, established a scholarship in memory of their mother, Swannanoa Horne Priddy, Class of 1911.

Their paternal grandmother, Lavinia Priddy, also attended Hollins with the Class of 1867. Robert Priddy and his wife, Ruby, presented Hollins with a gift of $1.27 million in 2004 to convert the historic building formerly known as Starkie House and West Annex into a new home for the English and creative writing department called Swannanoa Hall. Next came a $1 million undesignated gift, a portion of which was used to renovate the dance studio, then another $1 million challenge gift for capital improvements.

Priddy has also given Hollins two treasured family heirlooms - a Victorian oak door with leaded glass from the family home in Clayton, North Carolina, installed in Swannanoa Hall, and his mother's silver tea service, now in use at the president's house. He also sponsored the highly successful Texas Challenge to increase support for the Hollins Fund among his fellow Texans with a Hollins connection.


"I am so appreciative of how my love of literature and writing were shaped at Hollins," says Susan Gager Jackson '68. "It is an honor to be able to give something back." Susan and her husband, John, pledged $5 million to establish the Jackson Center for Creative Writing. One of their goals in making this gift is to bring national attention to the Hollins creative writing program. An endowment fund will help raise awareness of both new and existing programs, including the Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence, the annual Lex Allen Literary Festival, the Jackson Poetry Readings, and the Dee Hull Everist Visiting Speaker Series (see below). The Jacksons' gift will also allow Hollins to recruit the most promising students and attract additional talent to our faculty. Awards such as the Jackson Fellowship in Creative Writing will provide financial support to M.F.A. students, and a scholarship for undergraduate students will help recruit and retain talented young writers. The Susan Gager Jackson Endowed Chair in Creative Writing has been established to recognize the accomplishments of our faculty and allow them to focus on their passions - writing and teaching. Professor Jeanne Larsen is the first to hold the Jackson Chair.

  • After Dee Hull Everist '75 passed away in 2005, her family wanted to honor her enduring love for the written word. Dee's husband, Brian D. Everist, and their three children have presented Hollins with a gift of $1 million to establish the Dee Hull Everist Visiting Speaker Series. The series brings to campus speakers of international reputation, including writers and critics, for readings, lectures, and interaction with students and faculty. The Everist family's gift will greatly advance Hollins' existing reputation for excellence in creative writing. "Dee was proud of that reputation," Everist said, "and in the view of our family, would enthusiastically support additional programs which would enhance English and writing at Hollins."

  • "I gained my best friends in life while I was studying in Paris," says Jeannie Hall Rutherfoord '74. The lifelong impact of her semester overseas inspired Rutherfoord and her husband, Thomas, to give $1 million in support of Hollins' study abroad program in Paris. This endowed fund will pay the salary and benefits for what will now be called the Rutherfoord Director of the Hollins Abroad–Paris program. "I studied French at Hollins and the opportunity to immerse myself in French culture solidified my ability to speak the language, which continues to be invaluable to me," she says, noting that she works closely with the Washington, D.C. council of the French Heritage Society, a private foundation dedicated to preserving French architecture in the United States and France. The Rutherfoords are such proponents of Hollins Abroad Paris that they convinced their son, who is a student at another college, to enroll in the program during the fall of 2010.





Study Abroad
  • Claudia Belk '60 and Stella Thayer '62 affirmed their belief in the power of studying abroad and fostering cross-cultural connections with their campaign gifts.

Some say love comes but once. Yet Claudia Watkins Belk '60 affirmed her love for study abroad at Hollins twice in a row. Hollins met and exceeded two challenges from the John M. Belk Educational Endowment to raise $500,000 each time, to receive matching grants of the same amount. The funds support the Claudia Watkins Belk International Scholars Endowment, which offers deserving Hollins students the chance to study abroad for a semester or a year, participate in an international learning experience during January Short Term, or engage in community service or career internship placements abroad. Claudia's late husband, John Montgomery Belk, established the endowment in 2007 in her honor.

Thayer Fostering cross-cultural knowledge is necessary in today's increasingly global society. Stella Ferguson Thayer '62 believes that study abroad is an essential component of a Hollins education, and to cultivate that mission she has given $1 million to fully endow the position of the director of international programs. Thayer's endowment gift will provide permanent funding for salary and benefits of the director position, currently held by Kirsten McKinney. The leadership and vision provided by the director of international programs ensures that the time-honored Hollins tradition of study abroad will remain strong.
Jane Batten
Leadership Training
  • "The intensive exposure the institute provides to the theory and practice of leadership is without peer," says Loren Gary of Harvard University about the Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins. Frank and Jane Parke Batten '58 gave $2 million to Hollins in 1995 to establish the Batten Scholars program, and in 2002 they funded the creation of the Batten Leadership Institute, which offers an array of initiatives including the Certificate of Leadership Studies for undergraduate students and the Certificate in Professional Leadership for professional women in the Roanoke area. Four years later the Battens gave Hollins $2 million to further endow the Institute, and in 2008 added a $3 million gift to support its mission. The Battens also gave Hollins more than $2.2 million to fund an endowed chair in leadership. And now, Jane Batten has offered a $5 million challenge to Hollins alumnae and friends for scholarships.

  • Sandra Frazier '94 presented a $2 million gift to Hollins on her family's behalf to support the history department through an endowed academic chair and endowments for student/faculty research and faculty salaries. The Frazier family's connection to Hollins began in 1990 with Sandra’s enrollment. Four years later, her sister, Virginia, came to Hollins and graduated in 1998 (learn more about Virginia here). Their parents, Jean and the late Harry Frazier, served on the Parents Council. "Hollins has been an important part of my sister's life and my life," said Sandra. "I was particularly interested in making the gift happen for the history department, first of all, because it was my major. More importantly, if I were to credit one group for shaping my work ethic and ability, it would be the history department faculty. They are dedicated to teaching and committed to their students - including encouraging an average student to challenge herself."





Jack BierleyTifi Bierley

Cultural Diversity
  • Tifi Bierley '60 and Suzanne Reno '64 gave to the campaign to support international professors and students at Hollins.

Tifi Webb Bierley '60 and her husband, Jack, understand the importance of educating students in a global society. With that understanding comes a $500,000 gift to establish an international professorship that brings a visiting professor from a university in Asia, Latin America, Africa, or Eastern Europe to campus. The visiting professor carries a normal teaching load, lives on campus, participates in university activities, and delivers a university-wide lecture at least once during her/his tenure at Hollins. The 2010-11 fellow is Dr. Gali Tealakh, a political historian whose research focuses on the Middle East and Eurasia. Tifi explains: "In my...almost 60 years of world travel and international focus, I have developed a strong feeling and appreciation for the need of more non-Eurocentric education. We know that this gift will assist Hollins in achieving this goal."


The Suzanne McKnight Reno Scholarship for International Students will offer a full tuition scholarship to one outstanding international student or partial scholarship support for several deserving international students. This is Hollins’ first full tuition scholarship for international students, established by Suzanne McKnight Reno '64 and her husband, John, with a gift of $500,000. Through this scholarship, the Renos hope to enhance Hollins' international focus by making it possible for women from around the world to learn and grow at Hollins. They believe that such a cultural exchange will continue a commitment by Hollins to diversify the campus culture.

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