Interview with Cynthia Wood: Vice President Emerita of Institutional Advancement

Cynthia Wood, Rollins College
Wenxian Zhang, Rollins College


Cynthia Ramey Wood came to Rollins College in 1990 as the Director of Community and Donor Relations. In 1993, Wood became the executive director of the Alumni Association, the first non-alumnus to hold that position. Over the remainder of her Rollins career, Wood also held the offices of Vice President for Alumni Relations and Vice president for Institutional Advancement. She also contributed her knowledge of table settings by teaching etiquette for corporate dining to students of the Crummer Graduate Business School and the College of Arts & Sciences at Rollins.

Growing up in Hale County, Alabama, as the daughter of a school superintendent, it might not be surprising that Wood eventually pursued a career in higher education. However, that was not her first passion. She earned an undergraduate degree in speech pathology from Auburn University and attended Florida State University for her master's degree in hearing disabilities. Before joining the Rollins community, she co-founded the School for Special Children and coordinated hearing screenings for public school students in Orange County, Florida.

Wood's first challenge at Rollins was to introduce the then-incoming President, Rita Bornstein, to the community. Under her supervision, the original Rollins College Web site came into being, and the Alumni Association had one of the first pages. The association also received two gold medals for excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education while under her direction. These distinctions included featured entries in CURRENTS magazine. Wood is proud of the efficient synergy that has developed between departments over the years, especially fundraising and alumni relations. To her, Rollins alumni are one of the College's most important resources--people who deserve to be treated warmly as individuals.

During her time at Rollins, Wood had the opportunity to meet many fascinating individuals, including "Mister" Fred Rogers (perhaps Rollins' best known graduate); his wife, Joanne; George and Harriet Cornell; and College presidents Thaddeus Seymour, Rita Bornstein, and Lewis Duncan, among a host of others.