Roanoke County Recognizes President Gray

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors honored retiring Hollins University President Nancy Gray during its regular meeting on May 23.

The board paid tribute to Gray for her 12 years of service with a Resolution of Appreciation.

“President Gray has been a true partner to Roanoke County,” said Board Chairman Joe McNamara. “We wish her success in her future endeavors.”

Read the entire Resolution of Appreciation here.

Pictured (left to right): Board Chairman Joe McNamara, President Gray, County Administrator Thomas Gates

Gray Leads Forum on College Presidents’ Role in Promoting Campus Inclusivity

With a focus on shaping a welcoming, inclusive campus culture, Hollins University President Nancy Gray moderated the first-ever Presidential Forum on Diversity and Inclusion at the 2017 Presidents Institute, presented by The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

The largest annual gathering of college and university presidents in the United States, the Presidents Institute this year explored the theme, “Education for America’s Future.” Guarding freedom of speech, growing diversity, building inclusive communities, and encouraging global awareness were among the topics of interest.

The forum, which also featured leaders from DePaul University, Ithaca College, Jarvis Christian College, and Oberlin College, looked at ways to nurture a campus atmosphere “where students, faculty, and staff are free to express their views while remaining respectful of those who disagree,” according to the CIC newsletter Independent. “The candid discussion began with observations from college and university presidents who have encountered concerns about inequality, injustice, diversity, inclusion, or free expression on their campuses.”

Gray delivered a summary of the campus climate survey that Hollins administered in December 2015. “Overall, the survey data suggested that Hollins had a welcoming and respectful environment for students, faculty, and staff but that there were significant differences in perceptions and experiences depending on race, ethnicity, gender, and political perspective,” the Independent reports. “For example, students of color rated the campus less welcoming and less respectful than the overall rating. ‘The good news,’ [Gray] said, ‘was that an overwhelming majority of survey participants said “we can do better” and “we want to do better.”’”

The Independent continues, “The university’s leadership identified several actions they could take to foster a more inclusive and diverse community: offer professional development for faculty and staff members; provide leadership training for students; offer new educational programs and activities for students during orientation; review and change hiring procedures; hire a new diversity officer; engage in dialogues with community members; and appoint an on-campus heritage committee to study the institutional history of slavery with representatives joining other colleges and universities studying the same issues.”

The CIC’s 2017 Presidents Institute was held January 4 – 7 in Orlando, Florida.

Photo: The Presidential Forum on Diversity and Inclusion featured presidents (from left to right) Marvin Krislov of Oberlin College, Lester C. Newman of Jarvis Christian College, Thomas R. Rochon of Ithaca College, Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, of DePaul University, and Nancy Gray of Hollins.


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Hollins President Nancy Gray to Retire in 2017

After nearly 12 years of distinguished leadership, Hollins University President Nancy Oliver Gray announced today that she is retiring from office at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve this extraordinary community of talented, creative, and committed people,” Gray stated in a letter to the campus community. “I am proud of all that we have accomplished together.”

“We are fortunate that Nancy has served us so wonderfully and so long as Hollins’ president,” said Judy Lambeth, chair of the Hollins University board of trustees. “She leaves our institution stronger in every dimension and she will be missed. Her leadership is unparalleled.”

Gray came to Hollins in January 2005, after serving five-and-a-half years as president of Converse College in South Carolina. Her list of accomplishments is long, including significant gains in enrollment with the largest class of incoming new students in 22 years starting this August.  Under her guidance, the University has operated under no debt and a balanced operating budget for the past ten years. She led Hollins during the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in school history and the largest ever undertaken by a women’s college in the South, the Campaign for Women Who Are Going Places. The campaign successfully concluded in 2010 with over $161 million raised, far exceeding the goal of $125 million. In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Hollins among “America’s 100 Most Financially Fit Colleges.” In its list of College Financial Grades for 2016, published yesterday, Forbes issued Hollins an “A” rating. The grades measure the fiscal soundness of some 900 four-year, private, not-for-profit colleges with at least 500 students.

As Hollins’ eleventh president, Gray has spearheaded the creation of a number of new academic programs including majors in environmental studies and environmental science; a certificate program in leadership studies; an extensive seminar program especially designed for first-year students; a Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s book writing and illustrating; and a faculty-designed honors program that complements the University’s academic curriculum and provides students a multidisciplinary and research-based experience. All Hollins students are now guaranteed opportunities for study abroad, leadership development, undergraduate research, and internships, which are important building blocks for success post-college.

Gray has overseen renovation of historic buildings and gardens on the Hollins campus and became a driving force in deepening the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2007, Hollins became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Agreement, and over the past nine years has dramatically reduced its carbon consumption.

Gray noted these and other achievements occurred “during an era when both women’s colleges and liberal arts colleges and universities have been increasingly challenged by demographic, economic, and regulatory changes.  Nevertheless, Hollins has steadfastly remained both competitive and faithful to our mission.  The work we do matters as we prepare students to discover and learn to use their voices, and to lead fulfilling professional and personal lives in a complex, global, fast-paced, and rapidly changing world.”

“There are no words to convey my and Hollins’ collective gratitude for the extraordinary – indeed unprecedented – leadership Nancy Gray has provided,” said Lambeth.  “She has advanced the institution in innumerable ways.”

Gray is a native of Dallas, Texas. She and her husband, David Maxson, have seven adult children between them as well as ten grandchildren, and she told the campus community she wanted to spend more time with her family. In the meantime, she is eager to lead Hollins’ celebration of its 175th anniversary during the 2016-17 academic session.

“Hollins has an exciting year ahead and I am thrilled to be welcoming our new and returning students as we celebrate 175 years of educating women,” she said.

Lambeth stated that a presidential search committee is being established to recruit Gray’s successor.

Hollins Signs On to Commitment to Advance Women Leaders in Higher Education

Hollins University has signed on to the Moving the Needle: Advancing Women Leaders in Higher Education call to action campaign to work toward ensuring that 50% of chief executives of our nation’s higher education institutions will be women by 2030.

The campaign was launched in January 2016 by the American Council on Education (ACE), the coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions. It encourages colleges and universities to increase awareness by signing a statement of support to advance women into senior leadership positions in higher education.

Hollins President Nancy Gray joins a group of over 100 leaders that recognize that there is a pivotal opportunity to help advance women into the CEO position at America’s colleges and universities as higher education is beginning to see turnover of a generation of leaders.

The campaign notes that although women now earn the majority of all college degrees, they have made surprisingly little progress when it comes to gaining the top job at colleges and universities, moving the needle just three percentage points since 2006. As of 2011, only 26% of college and university presidencies were occupied by women.

When presidents sign the Moving the Needle: Advancing Women Leaders commitment, they pledge to:

  • Nominate qualified women to the highest positions of leadership in higher education wherever and whenever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for emerging women leaders to gain access to the skills and experiences necessary to advance.
  • Educate others, including boards, on the benefits of a gender-diversified leadership.
  • Empower leadership teams in their own institutions to sponsor women leaders.

Hollins to Explore Affiliation with State Department’s Women in Public Service Project

womenserviceHollins University President Nancy Gray joined other women’s college presidents from throughout the nation at the inaugural colloquium of the Women in Public Service Project, held at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.

“The goal of the Women in Public Service Project is to cultivate a generation of women leaders who will invest in their democratic countries, be willing to provide leadership through public service to the governments, and change the way global solutions are forged,” Gray explains. “The project intends to create training and mentoring opportunities for emerging and aspiring women leaders to establish and sustain an international network of such leaders.”

Gray adds that the project is currently an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of State and five of the “Seven Sisters” colleges – Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley. However, she notes that “the partnership is eager to expand and include other colleges, especially women’s colleges.”

The colloquium, which Gray describes as “a remarkable event,” was keynoted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and featured addresses from Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

President Gray Joins Other College Leaders in Calling for Tougher Gun Control Laws

guncontrolHollins University President Nancy Oliver Gray has joined more than 160 college and university leaders from across the nation in signing an open letter urging the President and Congress to take immediate action on gun control.

“As educators and parents,” the letter says, “we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:

  • Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms.
  • Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check
  • Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines
  • Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects”