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Thaddeus Seymour came to Rollins in 1978 as the twelfth president of the college. During his twelve-year tenure, he not only transformed the school through fund-raising efforts, but also enhanced academic excellence of liberal arts education and strengthened the relationship with the local community.

Seymour was born on June 29, 1928, in New York City.  His father was Whitney North Seymour, a well-known attorney and president of the American Bar Association.  Seymour attended Princeton and the University of California at Berkley as an undergraduate.  From there, he went to the University of North Carolina, studied 18th century English literature, and received his master’s degree and Ph.D.  Seymour began his academic career as an English professor at Dartmouth, and five years later became Dean of the College. Before coming to Rollins, Seymour served as president of Wabash College in Indiana for nine years.

While at Rollins, Seymour led the college’s centennial celebration, rededicated the Walk of Fame, raised funds for the construction of the Olin Library and the Cornell Social Science Building, reinstated the Fox Day, and actively contributed to various community activities.  He served as chairman, vice-chairman, and committee member of numerous academic and civic organizations. Throughout his life, Seymour is widely known not only as dean and college president, but also an inspiring teacher, a caring counselor, a supportive friend, a charming magician and a leading citizen of the community.

Upon his retirement in 1990, Seymour received an honorary degree from Rollins College. He has also been recognized with honorary doctorates from Wilkes College (Pa.), Butler University, and Indiana State University.  In 1994, he received the Citizens Award from the Sullivan Committee.  Three years later, in 1997, Seymour and his wife, Polly, became Winter Park’s Citizens of the Year, in recognition of their continued service in the community.

Seymour Describes the Development of His Fox Day


  • "...I discovered that Rollins had had Fox Day.  But understandably, in the sixties, when life was so earnest, Jack Critchfield understandably discontinued Fox Day.  But when I came, one of the great bits of fun I had was to re-institute Fox Day.  So I was able to carry the Elmore tradition with me to Rollins..."


  • "And I just know that what we tried to establish there, what I know RCC works here was, let’s have a course which is what new students will hope college will be...  So let’s get something that teachers are excited about and give the teacher room to get the student excited about it and do it and let’s have them all be different...  And RCC really works at that."


  • "And she, wise person she is, said, “Look, you got into education not because you love eighteenth century literature, you got into it because you like students...  The title was Dean of the College, the work was really being concerned for the welfare of students, their personal and academic welfare.  She said, “Your interest is not scholarship, it’s students.” (Snaps) Simple as that."


  • "What attracted me more than anything else [to Rollins] was the faculty and their concern for teaching and their knowledge of their students; their commitment to their students.  I’ve often said and I would say it again: Rollins faculty members like their students."





  • "Rollins had never raised or received a million dollars until a bequest from George Pearsall... He also had an interest in probability theory... And Mr. Pearsall said... 'I’ve gotten interested in probability theory and I just was trying to get some advice about some books to read.'..."








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So during your career, what courses did you enjoy the most that you’d teach?


Seymour Discusses His Transition from Teacher to Administrator


Seymour Discusses Why He Came to Rollins


Seymour Discusses How the Nature of Rollins Inspires Financial Contributions