Dr. Mary Dana Hinton Honored as Winner of 8th Annual Courageous Leadership Award

Dr. Mary Dana Hinton Honored as Winner of 8th Annual Courageous Leadership Award

Credo is thrilled to announce Dr. Mary Dana Hinton, President of Hollins University, as the recipient of our eighth annual Courageous Leadership Award.

Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., became the thirteenth president of Hollins University on August 1, 2020. An active and respected proponent of the liberal arts, her leadership reflects a deep and abiding commitment to educational equity and the education of women.

In a few short months, Hinton’s forward thinking, team-oriented approach began coming to fruition. She engaged in dialogue with more than 200 campus community members to create a comprehensive strategy to facilitate and support diversity, equity, and inclusion. This important work was augmented by Hollins’ first annual Leading Equity, Diversity, and Justice (EDJ) Day, where more than 550 students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, and trustees joined together to explore themes of race and racial justice.

Hinton also helped champion a spirit of mutual accountability and collective responsibility, a Culture of Care, that is enabling Hollins to successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. In this achievement, she embraced the transformational role of education; as a leader, she entrusted, empowered, and supported the campus community in every shared experience.

Mary Hinton 12-7-2020 - 20201002_131235President Hinton (foreground, left) chats with students during an event this fall on the Moody Student Center Plaza.

For six years prior, Hinton served as the president of the College of Saint Benedict (Saint Ben’s) in Saint Joseph, Minnesota and was named President Emerita upon her departure. Under her leadership, Saint Ben’s put into action a collaborative strategic plan and dynamic vision to guide the institution through 2020. During her tenure, the college completed a $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, exceeding its goal. Hinton also led the process to implement a $43 million campus facilities update, enabling Saint Ben’s to provide premier facilities for teaching, learning, and women’s leadership development.

Presented each year during the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) Presidents Institute, the Courageous Leadership Award is given by Credo to recognize an innovative leader in independent higher education. Recipients demonstrate one, or many, of the following achievements as a part of their institutional leadership*:

  • Minimum five years in a leadership position at current or most recent institution.
  • Institutional growth across one or more key indicators: enrollment, fundraising, retention.
  • Visible champion and advocate for students and their success.
  • Proven champion of inclusive leadership.
  • Articulation and successful execution of a compelling and clear vision for their institution.
  • Proven track record of fostering collaborative relationships both inside and outside of their institution.
  • Acknowledgement by peers and/or within the field of higher education as an advocate and champion of independent higher education.
  • Proven innovation in operations, academics, net revenue, strategic planning, student success, or other critical areas.
  • Strategic, game-changing planning for and investments in campus spaces and places.

“Mary’s dynamic and inclusive leadership improves the student experience and lifts up leaders around her wherever she is,” said  Tom Gavic, President / CoFounder of Credo. “We have such a deep respect for Mary and know that the field of higher education is stronger with her in it.”

Mary Dana Hinton_1707February 2020, prior to the beginning of the pandemic, then-President-elect Hinton was officially introduced to the campus community.

Hinton speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad, and founded the Liberal Arts Illuminated Conference. Hinton’s scholarship focuses on higher education leadership, strategic planning, the role of education in peace building, African American religious history, and inclusion and equity in higher education. She is the author of The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America and a frequent op-ed contributor across higher education publications. Her TEDx talk, Leading From the Margins, reflects the thesis of her next book.

To learn more about Mary Hinton’s professional accomplishments, contributions to national higher education, and the breadth of her academic interests, please visit her official Hollins University biography.


*To be considered for the Credo Courageous Leadership Award, a leader need not be a current or past Credo client.

All photographs are courtesy of Hollins University.

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