Our President & Leadership

Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D.
president, Hollins University

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


For six years 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.


Hinton is a member of the board of directors for the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Interfaith Youth CoreSaint Mary’s School, and The Teagle Foundation. She is currently serving a three-year term as an at-large board member with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and is the chair of the AAC&U. She chairs the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust and is also a member of the Lumina Foundation’s Quality Credentials Task Force.

Hinton is part of a coalition of national leaders hailing from higher education, government, business, the nonprofit sector, and the military that has formed a new organization, the Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset (HESA). Through June 2024, HESA will develop and propose recommendations for ensuring that higher education institutions can deliver the workforce and educated citizenry necessary to address the United States’ most critical national priorities.

She speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad on topics related to the liberal arts and inclusion, and she founded the Liberal Arts Illuminated Conference. Hinton teaches in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education doctoral program in higher education management and the CIC President’s Institute New President Program.

A broad range of academic interests

Hinton’s scholarship focuses on higher education leadership, strategic planning, the role of education in peace building, African American religious history, and inclusion 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.

Hinton earned a Ph.D. in religion and religious education with high honors from Fordham University, a Master of Arts degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Williams College. She is the recipient of the Bicentennial Medal from Williams College and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Misericordia University and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Credo, a comprehensive higher education consulting firm specializing in working with independent colleges and universities, named Hinton as the recipient of its eighth annual Courageous Leadership Award in 2020. The award recognizes an innovative leader in independent higher education.

In 2021, Hinton was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an organization established more than 240 years ago by the nation’s founders to honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

Hinton, her husband, Robert Williams, and their children, Hallela, Hillel, and Hosanna, make their home at Lorimer House, the Hollins University presidential residence.

Contact: presoffc@hollins.edu