ABOUT WINTER PARK INSTITUTE

Winter Park Events Center
Winter Park Events Center

ABOUT WINTER PARK INSTITUTE

With public lectures and readings, the Winter Park Institute hosts influential people from a broad spectrum of disciplines and expertise. This exchange of ideas is designed to encourage enlightened on-going conversation and to enhance an educated citizenry who, through civic discourse and debate, foster and strengthen an ongoing democratic society.

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The Winter Park Institute has moved from its home for twelve years at Rollins College to become an independent 501(c)(3) non profit to present programs for the City of Winter Park and beyond at its new Library & Events Center campus. As a freestanding public charity, the Institute is dependent upon the generosity of corporate, institutional and individual patronage for support.

WINTER PARK LIBRARY & EVENTS CENTER


Serving as home to the Winter Park Institute, patrons are invited to free events inside the Library and featured speakers in the adjacent Events Center.

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About the Architect

Our History

The Institute was founded in 2007 by Rollins College through the leadership of then-president Lewis Duncan following a third college-sponsored Colloquy on Liberal Education and Social Responsibility (the first two were in 1930 and 1997).

The new organization was supported by a generous donation from longtime trustee Allan E. Keen and the Charles Hosmer Morse and Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundations, both through a grant and by providing use of the historic Osceola Lodge as headquarters. The first executive director was Dr. Gail Sinclair, who built the fledgling Institute into a community treasure by attracting season after season of extraordinary presenters, including primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, filmmaker Ken Burns, director Oliver Stone, cellist Itzhak Perlman, activist Gloria Steinem, pop music legend Paul McCartney, former two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (also the Institute’s Senior Distinguished Fellow) and dozens more.

Rollins divested itself of the Institute in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and entrusted it to Winter Park Publishing Company, publishers of Winter Park Magazine. The company held several virtual events while in-person gatherings were prohibited, but all the while sought a community partner who could return the Institute to its lofty stature when the pandemic receded. In 2021 Winter Park Institute secured its independant nonprofit status as a 501c3 under Robertson. In 2022 leadership was then transferred to Lauren Zimmerman, who is currently working with a team of board members to bring the 2022-2023 event season to life, restoring the Institute as cultural and intellectual jewel in Winter Park’s crown.