Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Hollins University

  • The Position
  • Hollins University
  • Role of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Position

Hollins University, one of the nation's most dynamic and diverse liberal arts colleges for women, seeks an equally dynamic Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (VPDEI). Reporting directly to the President, and serving on her Cabinet, the VPDEI provides leadership to ensure Hollins University is continuously working toward a campus environment and student outcomes that foster belonging, and are inclusive, equitable, and reflective of its loftiest ideals as expressed in its mission as a residential, liberal arts community.

Located in Roanoke, Virginia in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hollins University is a vibrant community with 130 faculty, about 200 staff, 701 undergraduates, and 113 graduate students. Known for its creative and highly engaged student body and its distinguished faculty and staff, Hollins prides itself on its nationally-recognized academic programs, a deeply committed alumnae/i network, an extraordinarily beautiful campus, and its unique ability to ensure that each of its students has the opportunity to design a transformational college experience. As a testament to the university’s standing among the leading liberal arts colleges in the nation, The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020 calls Hollins one of “the country’s best and most interesting colleges and universities,” while U.S. News and World Report ranks Hollins #102 overall and the #44 “Best Value School” in the category of “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.” Hollins is proud to be ranked #21 for “Social Mobility” in the same category.

With a visionary new President at the helm, a strong record of alumnae/i engagement and giving, and institutional eagerness to implement new and transformative programs, Hollins aims to position both its students and itself to thrive amid the opportunities and challenges emerging from the ever-changing higher education landscape.

Hollins has striven to create a diverse and welcoming community, yet the university still has work to do to achieve inclusive excellence. President Mary Dana Hinton has committed Hollins to becoming a model of inclusive excellence. In her words, “Much of the [work to be done] can readily be addressed through the assessment and refinement of existing structures or by aggressively implementing new policies and practices. However, long-term, systemic, and cultural change are essential to ensure that the immediate tactics are embraced and become a valued part of the Hollins campus. This longer-term work has to begin now, but cannot be measured in days, weeks, or months. Instead, this is the work that will frame who we become and who we are in the long-term.” Hence, a foundational part of this work is the hiring of the new role of VPDEI.

A summary of the characteristics and qualifications that Hollins is looking for in its VPDEI is at the end of this document.

Hollins University

Hollins is dedicated to the liberal arts, and is unwavering in its support of inclusive academic excellence. Long at the forefront of women’s education, the university has continued its tradition of educational innovation. While Hollins remains committed to its standing as an undergraduate women’s college, its eleven gender-inclusive graduate programs are integral to the university and increasingly key to the financial health of the institution.

Campus Culture

A residential, liberal arts college, Hollins is a close-knit community where living and learning are conscientiously integrated. On average, 90% of undergraduate students live on campus, where they participate in a full array of extracurricular clubs and activities ranging from literary journals to student government. The university sponsors nine intercollegiate sports that compete in the NCAA DIII Old Dominion Athletic Conference, while the equestrian team competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Hollins is particularly well-known for its nationally-acclaimed riding program, which boasts 19 individual national championships, two team national championships, and four individual national high point rider championships.

The entire campus enjoys many long-standing traditions, from an annual hike up nearby Tinker Mountain to the Passing of the Robes, where seniors give their decorated graduation robes to juniors. Students’ sense of investment in Hollins translates into lifelong loyalty to the university. The devotion of alumnae/i to Hollins and its students is uncommonly strong, with The Princeton Review ranking Hollins #5 for “Best Alumni Network” in the 2021 edition of The 386 Best Colleges.


The academic profile of incoming students is strong, with an average weighted GPA of 3.65, an ACT average of 25, and 1180 on the SAT. Forty-six percent of the incoming first-year class are from Virginia, but Hollins continues to attract students nationally, with 9% of the first-year class coming from California, Florida, and Texas. This fall, Hollins welcomed 206 students as members of the Class of 2024, 28% of whom self-identify as students of color and 37% of whom are first-generation college students. Last fall, Hollins welcomed the largest group of incoming international students in its history with over 30 students (15% of the incoming first-year class) hailing from countries including India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. In addition to serving traditional undergraduate populations, Hollins offers the Horizon Undergraduate Program for women who are returning to college after an interruption in their education. The employment rate for Hollins graduates is very strong: 95% of the graduating class of 2018 were employed or enrolled in graduate school within one year of graduation.


Hollins University employs approximately 200 non-academic staff members. The VPDEI will also work with existing offices like Cultural and Community Engagement; Title IX; First-Generation, Low Income; Horizon; and other programs and committees including the Inclusivity and Diversity Advisory Council and the Working Group on Slavery and its Contemporary Legacies.


Hollins has 130 members of the faculty, of whom 40% are tenured or tenure-track. The remaining faculty members are either long- or short-term full-time, part-time, or adjunct professors. Active and committed citizens of the university, Hollins faculty members are both dedicated teachers and engaged scholars. The community of students and faculty creates an intellectually-rich environment with ample opportunities for interaction inside and outside of the classroom. Hollins supports this integrative tradition with an average class size of 12 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Small classes and labs promote strong relationships between faculty and students, as does a personalized approach to student advising.

Please note that many of the photos included on this page were taken prior to the pandemic and therefore do not reflect Hollins' Culture of Care guidelines regarding the use of face masks and physical distancing requirements.

The Academic Program

Undergraduate Programs

Hollins steadfastly believes that a strong liberal arts education is the best foundation for leading a life of consequence, even as the university aims to continue to evolve its curriculum in response to present-day opportunities and challenges. In the last few years, several new programs have been launched including a new major and minor in Public Health, an undergraduate major in Creative Writing, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Learning, and the Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning. Among the most distinctive of Hollins’ academic programs is the Batten Leadership Institute (BLI). The BLI program offers undergraduates academic and practical experience in leadership studies, while also providing an executive certificate in leadership that attracts participants from a wide range of industries and organizations in the Roanoke region.

The undergraduate program offers 29 majors, 14 major concentrations, and 30 minors, leading to Bachelor degrees in Arts, Fine Arts, or Science (B.A., B.F.A., B.S.). The five most popular majors at Hollins are English/Creative Writing, Biology, Business, Psychology, and Studio Art. At Hollins, true to the liberal arts tradition, disciplines genuinely enrich one another. Many students pursue a double major or add a minor or an undergraduate certificate programs to their major, blending seemingly dissimilar fields; for example, Religious Studies and Mathematics, Business and Dance, and Theatre and Philosophy.

The creative spark is alive and well at Hollins. The university’s well-deserved reputation as a champion of the fine arts is reflected in numerous awards and accolades. The Theatre Program at Hollins, one of the top ten programs in the country according to The Princeton Review, is the proud recipient of five national Kennedy Center Awards; the MFA Program in Dance is internationally recognized, and attracts some of the top dancers and choreographers from around the world; and the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum and the Art Department bring nationally-recognized artists to campus through the Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence Program.

With a science center and laboratories that have recently benefited from a multimillion-dollar renovation, Hollins offers programs of study in the following STEM fields: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Data Science, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Psychology. Interest in STEM has been steadily increasing, with 39% of the incoming class expressing plans to pursue majors in these fields. The university has also established a relationship with the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech—which is a short 45-minute drive from Hollins—where Hollins students can participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. At Hollins, students have the opportunity to conduct substantive research alongside faculty members, with many students having the additional opportunity to present their research at professional conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals.

A 4-1-4 academic calendar enables students to pursue internships, independent study, study abroad, or take an inspired, intensive course during the January term. Additionally, all first-year students participate in Hollins’ first-year seminar program, which immerses them in collaborative and active learning, and enables them to hone their skills in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, research, and writing. Most students also have a “capstone experience” in their final year, usually centered on writing a senior thesis or participating in an internship in their major area of study.

Graduate Programs

Over the last six decades, Hollins has created excellent, gender-inclusive graduate programs that continue to add to the university’s reputation. The current graduate programs are the M.A. and the M.F.A. in Children’s Literature, the M.F.A. in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating, the M.F.A. in Creative Writing, the M.F.A. in Dance, the M.A. in Liberal Studies, the M.F.A. in Playwriting, the M.A. and the M.F.A. in Screenwriting and Film Studies, and the M.A.T. in Teaching and Learning.

The Master’s in Creative Writing (now the M.F.A. degree) was established in 1960, and is celebrated nationally. Graduates include four Pulitzer Prize winners: Annie Dillard, Henry Taylor, Mary Wells Knight, and Board Member and US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. The New York Times has written, “Sometimes one begins to think that the faculty and graduates of Hollins supply half the world’s books. Certainly, they supply many of the best ones.”

Leadership and Governance

Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., became the 13th President of Hollins University in August 2020. A respected proponent of the liberal arts and educational equity, President Hinton aims to lead Hollins into the future by becoming a model of inclusivity in women’s education and a higher education innovator at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Active in the national higher education arena, Dr. Hinton is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), Saint Mary’s School, and the University Leadership Council. She speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad on topics related to the liberal arts and inclusion, and she founded the Liberal Arts Illuminated Conference. President Emerita of the College of Saint Benedict, Hinton is a proven strategic leader, accomplished fundraiser, and advocate for the liberal arts.

Hollins University is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of 26 people who are leaders in their fields and who render extensive service to the university. Along with contributing generous donations to Hollins, the trustees are actively engaged and supportive of the university’s overarching mission. The bylaws of the university outline the role and responsibility of the trustees: “The Board is the policy-making and governing body of the University, ultimately responsible for ensuring that the financial resources of the institution are adequate to provide a sound educational program. The Board of Trustees selects and evaluates the chief executive officer, approves the mission statement of the University, and all candidates for degrees.”

Hollins has long embraced shared governance, with administrators, faculty members, and student representatives working together to govern the university through a range of committees. Within the system of shared governance at Hollins, the faculty is the university's principal legislative body, responsible for the formulation and implementation of academic policy.

Campus and Facilities

The Hollins campus is, in a word, beautiful – 475 acres nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Front Quadrangle is listed in the National Historic Register, and the Wyndham Robertson Library has been designated a National Literary Landmark. The new Student Village, featuring apartment-style housing, is comprised of seven buildings enabling 68 students to enjoy modern housing and independent living. In the last fifteen years, over 50% of the buildings on campus have been renovated or undergone major updates, including the establishment of the state-of-the-art Eleanor D. Wilson Museum within the Wetherill Visual Arts Center and the Dana Science Building.

A photo of downtown Roanoke from visitroanokeva.com

Roanoke, Virginia

With approximately 100,000 residents, Roanoke is a diverse city, located just south of the Hollins campus. The city of Roanoke is a part of the larger Roanoke Valley, which is home to 300,000 residents. The area offers a variety of cultural, educational, and entertainment opportunities, including excellent schools, many restaurants and breweries, the Taubman Museum of Art, the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the Kids Square Children’s Museum, and the Jefferson Center, which hosts performances put on by organizations such as the Mill Mountain Theatre and the Roanoke Ballet. Roanoke’s Berglund Center also hosts a range of larger musical events and concerts. Roanoke is the medical hub for this region and is home to two major hospitals, as well as the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

Roanoke is especially well-known for its outdoor recreational resources. Home to numerous nature and hiking trails, Roanoke has been named “Best Place to Raise an Outdoor Family.” Domestic travel is also convenient from Hollins thanks to the nearby Roanoke Regional Airport, which has non-stop service to cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. There is Amtrak train service as well for passengers to Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Role of the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

While excellent visionary, facilitation, change management, and leadership skills are expected, this position will also directly engage with students, faculty, and staff to provide programming and create new opportunities for deep and sustained inclusive engagement and experiences. The ability to develop effective ongoing dialogue and collaboration with multiple and diverse constituents is an essential quality.

It is the expectation of the campus community that this position will:

Connect: The VPDEI will be someone who is able to proactively engage, communicate with, and inspire constituents across campus, from its most senior faculty to its newest staff members, from its diverse students to its highly visible trustees. The VPDEI will ensure Hollins provides an inclusive experience for all of the students and employees it serves. They will bring with them credentials, experiences, and a personal manner that facilitates this breadth of authentic engagement across the campus.

Build: The VPDEI will – in collaboration with the President, Cabinet, and the broader campus community – build the structures, processes, policies, and assessment measures necessary to center inclusion within the institution and to ensure all community members have the needed foundational knowledge and support to be inclusive in their daily work. The position will work closely with campus constituents to facilitate, benchmark, and implement an inclusion plan that outlines and achieves success for everyone in the Hollins community.

Facilitate: By developing needed structures and processes, along with a dynamic process of educating the community, the VPDEI will facilitate an environment that equips people across campus to lead with inclusive excellence at the forefront of their thinking and action. The community will learn from the VPDEI how to move the institution forward and then do the work alongside the VPDEI.

Advocate: The VPDEI will not only help the community to understand best practices as they relate to inclusion, diversity, equity, and justice, but they will also advocate for and lead change management initiatives in order to implement those practices across the campus. In addition, they will also advocate for those community members who need support, and be a trusted resource in the face of challenging moments.

Support and Lead Change: The VPDEI will support the community as a whole, as well as individuals, on their journey to become inclusive, actively work towards justice, and enable the institution to be equitable in action and will.

A visionary leader is needed to help Hollins become a transformative and inclusive institution.

The successful candidate must be an exceptional visionary and able to attend to the details of implementing multiple, complex strategies. Personally, this leader must be able to engage with all constituents openly, supportively, and with an eye toward how every encounter facilitates Hollins becoming a transformative and inclusive institution.

It is expected that the VPDEI will:

• Be a passionate educator, able to lead all members of the community in an institution-wide professional development effort focused on inclusion, diversity, and equity.

• Identify and support the implementation of best practices and the deconstruction of barriers to inclusion-related student success.

• Partner with Academic Affairs to support inclusive faculty professional development that ensures the academic enterprise is a model of inclusive pedagogy.

• Partner with Student Affairs to support inclusion in all areas of students’ experiences and to enhance student belonging.

• Partner with administrative leadership, as well as Human Resources, to facilitate the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty and staff.

• Oversee, support, and coordinate the work of several committees, programs, offices, and individuals currently addressing issues of inclusion and diversity on campus.

• Provide leadership for their team, and ensure the DEI work and organizational structure are aligned in order to maximize impact.

• Work with student leadership groups to develop their ability to advocate for inclusion and to lead inclusively.

• Establish robust metrics to track progress in achieving inclusion goals.

• In partnership with Institutional Advancement, identify and solicit external funding to support inclusion on campus and within the surrounding region.

• Develop and supervise a team of student, faculty, and staff Equity Ambassadors to support the work of the VPDEI.

Required Qualifications:

  • A master’s degree in a field related to the goals of the position
  • Proven success as a leader, with experience appropriate to a highly visible senior leadership role
  • Minimum of seven years of recent and relevant experience as an educator
  • Fluency in the principles and language of equity, inclusivity, diversity, justice, and anti-racism as they relate to higher education
  • Evidence of building and managing successful partnerships with faculty or other thought leaders
  • Experience working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders to facilitate change and as an organizational change agent and planner
  • Proven success at (1) engaging multiple campus constituents and (2) building strong, collaborative relationships with faculty, staff, and students
  • Demonstrated expertise in building an inclusive community that provides enhanced outcomes for all community members
  • Experience utilizing data to inform planning and decision-making with a results-oriented mindset
  • Impeccable interpersonal and communication skills, both verbal and written, and strong emotional intelligence
  • Ability to lead, manage, and motivate diverse constituent perspectives
  • Proven success at responding with compassion, care, and an educative lens during moments of crisis
  • Passion for the values of a residential, liberal arts education for students
  • Experience with large event planning in order to continue Hollins’ annual Leading Equity, Diversity, and Justice Day
  • Ability to manage confidential and sensitive matters
  • Ability and willingness to work evenings and weekends

Preferred qualifications:

  • Doctoral degree strongly preferred
  • Experience in a residential, liberal arts higher education institution
  • External grant writing experience

Hollins’ commitment to this position:

As a community, Hollins will ensure that the VPDEI is provided with the human and financial resources deemed necessary to do their job effectively. Similarly, the university will work to prepare its community members, physical space, and structures to enable the VPDEI not only to perform their duties but to thrive.

Application instructions:

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, salary requirement, and contact information for five references to inclusion@hollins.edu. Candidates should include in their cover letters a demonstrated interest in and understanding of Hollins University, and evidence of how their experience and skills can help make the institution a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus community. Review of applications will begin January 4, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled.

Hollins is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to promoting diversity and inclusiveness at every level of the university. Persons of all genders, persons with disabilities, and persons of all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply.