Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College

Celebrating 60 years of adult learning in Central Florida

Officially founded in 1960, the Rollins evening studies division has roots in the 1950s when a mathematics professor implemented adult education courses for returning World War II veterans. Back then the School of Continuing Studies was characterized as "the College that cares," and faculty vowed to provide responsive, individualized education while meeting a community need for higher education for adults.

History professor Jack Lane, now retired, recalls that about half of the students he taught in the 1960s were World War II veterans. Like today, the academic programs were offered in evening classes. Students obtained the bachelor of general studies degree with a concentration in humanities, social studies, business administration and economics, math and science, or teacher preparation. 

In 1987 the School of Continuing Education was renamed the Hamilton Holt School in honor of Rollins' renowned eighth president, Hamilton Holt, who served as president from 1925 to 1949. 

"Because of the quality, character, and importance of its educational program, the trustees named the Hamilton Holt School to carry forward the College's long-standing commitment to lifelong learning. Hamilton Holt is the towering figure in the history of the College, shaping its student-centered style of education and its reputation for academic excellence and educational innovation," said President Emeritus Thaddeus Seymour who was president of Rollins at the time of the renaming.

"It was Hamilton Holt who established Rollins as an institution of national significance, and I am proud that his high standards and educational vision are carried on by the school which bears his name."

Today, the Holt School has 12 majors leading to the bachelor of arts and seven master's degree programs in mental health counseling, education or teaching, human resources, public health and liberal studies. As of Spring 2020, the Holt School has 450 undergraduate students and 245 graduate program students ranging in age 17 to 72.

The Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College has been serving our adult learners in Central Florida for over 60 years. “We are proud of the impact we have made in developing our future leaders through global citizenship and responsible leadership,” said Robert Sanders, dean of the Hamilton Holt School. “We look forward to continuing to serve our community through our exceptional undergraduate, graduate, senior outreach, and community partnership programs.”

The Hamilton Holt School has been served over the years by the following administrative leaders;   George Sauté, Daniel Riva, Rick Bommelje, Bettina Beer, Robert Miller, Charles Edmondsen, Robert Smither, Patricia Lancaster, Sharon Carrier, James Eck, Laurie Joyner, Debra Wellman, and David CS Richard. Our current dean is Robert Sanders. 

A Summary of Historical Highlights:

  • 1960: The Institute of General Studies was founded with campuses in Winter Park and at Patrick Air Force Base to serve returning World War II veterans seeking continuing education classes.
  • 1961: Rollins added a graduate program, the Master of Arts in Teaching, which then became part of the evening studies division in the 1990s.
  • 1965: The Institute was renamed the Central Florida School for Continuing Studies.
  • 1967: Summer camps for children began.
  • 1973: The School was renamed the School of Continuing Education (SCE) and students could obtain the bachelor of arts, a bachelor of science, or a bachelor of general studies degree.
  • 1974: The SCE began offering a two-year associate of arts degree with concentrations in business administration, economics, humanities, math or science, criminal justice, and social studies.
  • 1977: Rollins began to offer a Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling and by 1981 the focus turned toward mental health counseling. This program also became part of the evening studies division in the 1990s.
  • 1980: Under the direction of former president Thaddeus Seymour, radical changes were made to SCE programs. These included strengthening academics and increasing the number of Rollins full-time faculty in the program, creating majors/minors, eliminating criminal justice from the curriculum, and creating a separate division for noncredit programs.
  • 1982: The evening studies division was renamed the Division of Continuing Education.
  • 1985: Undergraduate degree programs in organizational behavior and organizational communication were added to the curriculum.
  • 1985: Holt School celebrated 25th anniversary.
  • 1986: A board of advisors was created for the Division of Continuing Education.
  • 1987: The School of Continuing Education was renamed the Hamilton Holt School after Rollins' eighth president, Hamilton Holt. The Master of Liberal Studies Degree Program was introduced the same year.
  • 1994: The Master of Human Resources degree was introduced.
  • 1997: First Starry Starry Night scholarship benefit  held which to-date has raised $2 million in scholarships to assist 500 Holt students with college costs.
  • 1998: The Master of Arts in Corporate Communication & Technology was introduced.
  • 2000: Holt School celebrated 40th anniversary.
  • 2003: Rollins Brevard Campus merged with the Holt School
  • 2006: Holt School adopted Academic Honor Code.
  • 2007: Rollins trustee Alan Ginsburg pledged $5 million to Holt School for scholarship endowment, and for promoting curriculum and faculty development.
  • 2009: Study on the Strategic Direction for Hamilton Holt School was conducted.
  • 2010: Holt School celebrated 50 years of educating working adults in Central Florida.
  • 2010: New Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism program was launched.
  • 2012: The Hamilton Holt School Student Services team was awarded the Rollins Service Excellence Departmental Award.
  • 2013: Blended learning initiative commences with assistance from Associated Colleges of the South, select courses offered with reduced in-class seat time.
  • 2013: The Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning established and offers non-credit courses for adults 50 and older.  The RCLL is initially funded by a grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation.
  • 2013: Minors in Jewish Studies, Dance, and African and African-American Studies introduced.
  • 2013: Undergraduate major in business (management concentration) approved by College of Professional Studies, major started Spring ’14.
  • 2014: Center for Health Innovation established.
  • 2015: Several programs are added including a bachelor's degree in Healthcare Management, the Master of Health Services Administration, and the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science.
  • 2016: The Master of Public Health enrolls its first cohort.
  • 2019: The Hamilton Holt School creates a new partnership with Orange County Public Schools for a pathway to elementary education undergraduate degree program.
  • 2019: The Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science (ABACS) receives accreditation from the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).
  • 2020: The Hamilton Holt School celebrates 60 years of adult learning in Central Florida.