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As the College's thirteenth president and the first woman to hold that title, Rita Bornstein came to Rollins College in 1990.  For the next fourteen years, President Bornstein was also an author, teacher, and well-accomplished fundraiser.

A native of New York, Bornstein pursued her higher education in the south. After receiving both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Florida Atlantic University, she attended the University of Miami where she earned her Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Instruction in 1975. She taught high school English for a time, directed the U.S. Office of Education Technical Assistance Center at the University of Miami, and eventually became the university's vice president for development.  

During her time as president, Rollins' ranking in U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" climbed from number six regionally to number one, and the College became number one in Florida. Bornstein focused on boosting the College's endowment, which increased four fold during her presidency,  and creating additional endowed professors' chairs. She also oversaw The Campaign For Rollins, which succeeded in bringing $160.2 million to the College. In addition, Bornstein led the College in a much needed building project that expanded existing structures, added the McKean Gateway to the campus, and constructed the Cornell Campus Center, among other buildings.

Bornstein's commitment to making Rollins an integral part of the Winter Park community was reflected in emphasis on service and in the many distinctions awarded to both her and the institution. In recognition of Rollins' contribution of two Habitat for Humanity houses, the College was awarded the Tenth Annual Citizen of the Year Award by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce in 1994. Ten years later, the chamber named her Citizen of the Decade. Bornstein's other honors include: the first Council for Advancement and Support of Education District II Chief Executive Leadership Award, the Laureate for Lifetime Achievement in Fundraising, and the Summit Award.

While Bornstein is well known as a gifted administrator, she is also an academic in her own right. Her works include over one hundred presentations and papers including the well-received "Rollins Colloquy Toward a Pragmatic Liberal Education:  The Curriculum of the Twenty-First Century." Bornstein has written, edited, and contributed to books such as: Education and Democracy:  Re-imagining Liberal Learning and Legitimacy in the Academic Presidency:  From Entrance to Exit. In addition, she enjoys hiking and canoeing when her schedule allows time.

For additional information on the Bornstein administration of Rollins College, please see the Summer 2004 issue of Rollins Alumni Record.

You mentioned Dr. Bloland. Can you share with us his role in your life?

  • "... They invited me to have to coffee across the street in a restaurant, which I did, and Harland and I promptly forgot about this other guy and started talking and talking..."



  • "...I had never heard of Rollins before.  I had gotten into the search, and I asked one of the people at Miami about what he knew about it because he was a native Floridian..."

  • "...I used to give a report about everything that was happening with student life and faculty and I always had a few words about fundraising..."

  • "...We were so poor when I came, the endowment was about $37 or 38 million, that when we got an endowed chair Ė or any other gift Ė I used it for internal purposes; I offset the budget, so I gave a number of chairs to people who were on the faculty who deserved it..."

  • "...You know it says here that you should leave while they still love you.  Donít stay too long.  And maybe itís time for us to start thinking about it..."

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Bornstein Discusses Learning About Rollins

Bornstein Discusses Fundraising

You really raised the academic standards. You mentioned about the endowed chair. Can you talk about some of your efforts in that area?

How did you know it was time for you to retire?