Jack C. Lane


Although unique in its particulars, the founding of Rollins College in 1885 strongly resembled the formation and establishment of liberal arts colleges throughout the nineteenth century. Three forces-educational denominationalism, community boosterism, and real estate entrepreneurism-converged during the century to create a mania of indiscriminate college-building that produced as many as 700 institutions by the beginning of the Civil War. Founded in the waning years of the “ages of colleges,” Rollins fits this nineteenth-century pattern. It was the Congregational Church that established Rollins in the small frontier town of Winter Park, Florida. The local citizens provided most of the funds, and the major land developers of the area supplied the leadership. Rollins’s founders were northeasterners who hoped to recreate a New England-type college with a classical liberal arts curriculum and high admission standards. As with most other similar endeavors of the period, Rollins’s founding fathers were faced with the almost insuperable task of fitting such a traditional institution into a frontier environment.