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
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.
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
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.