Known for her colorful hats, warm spirit and a beloved dog named Bobby, Anita H. Garland, the dean of admissions and “unofficial mayor” of Hampden-Sydney College, is retiring after nearly 40 years of service, the school announced recently.
“I have treasured every moment of my time in admissions at Hampden-Sydney College, and I cherish the relationships that I have built here,” Garland said. “They have enriched my life beyond measure.”
“Perhaps more than any other individual in the last 50 years, Anita Garland has shaped the story of Hampden-Sydney College,” said President Larry Stimpert. “She has touched the lives of nearly every student to enter these gates during her years of service and even many of their parents. We will forever admire the enthusiasm she brought to her work, her eloquence in sharing the College’s story, and the personalized touch with which she has introduced so many young men to the distinctive greatness of Hampden-Sydney. Many a student has shared with me the impact that a handwritten note from Anita had on his decision to attend this College.”
Hired by President Josiah Bunting III in 1980, Garland served as associate dean of admissions and director of admissions until President Samuel V. Wilson named her dean of admissions in 1996 following a national search. In addition to a B.A. from Westhampton College, Garland holds an M.B.A. from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business.
“I recall many changes during my time—from Stokeley Fulton’s sitting on a bucket as he watched his team on the baseball field, to the wonderful Ty Cobb Ballpark,” Garland said. “From the food fights in Winston Hall to the spacious Pannill Commons. From a student center in Graham Hall to the lovely Brown Student Center. From typewriters to computers; from paper documents to digital ones; from a central switchboard to cell phones. But the students have always stayed the same—perhaps with different toys (from low tech to high tech)—but always with politeness, earnestness, and an eagerness to please.”
During her 39 years at Hampden-Sydney, 23 of them as dean of admissions, Garland has built the combined admissions and financial aid team into a modern operation comprised of 16 full-time staff members. She also has hired and trained 67 alumni, nearly all for their first jobs. She has worked with nine presidents and hundreds of trustees, and she has recruited 75 percent of living Hampden-Sydney alumni—including many sons of men she’d recruited years before.
“I am proud that we have run a high-quality, personalized, and honest program, which was all about making the student feel special and wanted by the College,” Garland said.
Garland has long been considered the unofficial mayor of Hampden-Sydney, often assembling members of the community for traditions such as a New Year’s Eve countdown at the college’s bell tower. She has also been Hampden-Sydney’s consummate cheerleader, signing many an email, “GO, TIGERS!”
“Anita’s impact on this college endures in the men across the nation and world who live out our founding mission of forming good men and good citizens, in addition to the talented and devoted team she has built in admissions and financial aid,” Stimpert said. “We are grateful for her dedication to and love for Hampden-Sydney, and we wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life.”
“I love the entire constituency at the College, but most especially our students,” Garland said. “I continue to be charmed and even disarmed by them, by their humor, by their energy, by their love of the college, and of their place in it. And, of course, their parents who have put their faith in Hampden-Sydney for their sons’ future.”
This article is a modified version of the original story published on the Hampden-Sydney website.