Sierra Nevada College donors Robert and Robin Holman are not only donating a building, but a whole realm of possibilities.
“The more desirable SNC is,” said Robin, “does nothing but enhance the community.”
The Incline Village residents purchased a building for SNC on Sept. 26, 2012, which will become the Holman Arts and Media Center.
“We are extremely grateful to the Holmans for their generous gift and for their enthusiastic support of the college,” said Vice President and Provost Shannon Beets. “We share their vision related to the expansion and diversification of programming in the arts and think the building will provide great opportunities to engage the community in support of the arts at SNC.”
Robin and Robert Holman’s
Robin went to college at Oklahoma State and finished at Indiana State. Later she went back for her master’s in Executive Coaching and Leadership at Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif..
Robin’s career began in the food distribution business as she worked in every department at a Chicago-based company. Afterwards she jumped into commercial real estate as a general manager before forming her own commercial real estate company.
Robert graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in International Economics, then acquired a master’s degree in England and followed up with post-graduate work at Harvard University.
Robert’s finance career started with co-founding a couple of companies on the New York Stock Exchange. He is currently a director of a NYSE company called iStar Financial, as well as an adviser to a hedge fund called H/2 Capital Partners. He has spent most of his career in Hawaii, San Francisco, and New York.
For Robin, art has always been a way to relax and is important to “balance us out as human beings.”
“Art is so important from a creativity standpoint. It’s so important in a society to have art and to have music,” said Robert. “While this other stuff may come and go there’s always going to be art and media that’s here to stay.”
Robert has won a couple of awards when he was in Hawaii, one in painting and one in ceramics in The Artist of Hawaii competition. He has decided now to learn to play the ukulele.
Robin used to paint and sell her paintings at little craft fairs in the Midwest.
“No matter what field you go in there is always a value in the arts,”said Robin.
Involvement at SNC
Robin joined the SNC Board of Trustees in September as the chair of the development and community outreach committee.
“We’re one of the founders of the Tahoe Fund, which is focused on the environment and creating walking and bike paths around the lake,” said Robin.
When Robin became involved with the Lake Tahoe Summerfest as co-founder, the position brought her to campus more. She got to know more of the department heads and what was going on with the school.
“One of the things that became very evident is a wonderful Art department and when I visited there was absolutely no space,” said Robin.“I was amazed at what they were producing in such a limited space.”
That began a conversation about finding a larger space for the Art department. The original plan was to rent a space at a reasonable rate as a donation until the market turned around. However, when the opportunity came up to purchase a building the Holmans decided to just buy the building and donate it.
Within about six months from when they started the conversation, they began looking around town to purchase the building for the school.
“The stars lined up, seriously” said Robert. “It was serendipitous. It was a combination of Robin working a lot on the college, meeting Sheri (Leigh O’Connor), and I was looking at the building for something else trying to think about how I could use the building in a commercial basis. It just came together. All those little stars lined up; Robin’s idea, the vacant building, the bank selling. It was timing.”
The Holman Arts and Media Center
The Holman Arts and Media Center received Washoe County approval Feb. 7 to use the building for school purposes instead of commercial. The Holmans and SNC are still working with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to hopefully be open for the summer art workshops.
“It’s going to have gallery space, so people can have art exhibits there and it’ll bring in the community. We’re working with the neighbors on a sculpture garden,” said Robert.
The Holmans are working with the Life Point Church to create a walking path from the building to the main college campus.
“With all the online education everything is changing around but the things like art and media need a place to practice because you can’t truly do it online,” said Robert. “It’s a good way to drive a stake in the ground for the future of the college that’ll last through the evolution that we’re going to see in education.”
The Holmans also discussed why “media” is important in the name.
“Media is amorphous, it’s everywhere, it surrounds us all day everyday,” said Robert. “Media is a very important part of the name and as media evolves; how can we grab on and make this the information media hub of the lake.”
Working towards the cutting edge is one of Robin’s goals.
“We have the newspaper, the Eagle’s Eye, in print, but really, I would like to see it stay on the cutting edge,” said Robin.
The Holmans would love to see the music department grow and expand.
The Holman’s vision for the new building doesn’t differ from the SNC core themes: Professional Preparedness, Sustainability, Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurial Thinking.
“That’s what we’re really about. If you had to cut through it all, we’re really about helping the students and trying to provide them broader education opportunities and giving them a start with their education that they could use in life,”said Robert.
Campus to community
The passion that the Holmans have for the future of SNC is evident when they talk about the vision and really being able to connect with students and community.
“We’ve subscribed to the notion that Incline shouldn’t be a town with a college, it should be a college town,” said Robert.
You make Incline Village a college town by getting more visibility and bringing the community into the college however you can, according to Robert.
“We wanted to live in a community with a college town because we love being around the young vibrant energy,” said Robin.
Even before the building is open there are bigger goals and hopes for it to become a real community hub.
“Help build the community using the college as the cog,” said Robert. “What does the community want? What does the community want to be when it grows up?”
Although it is still too early to say what other plans the Holmans have in store, they did say there were ideas.
“We’re trying to walk the walk not just talk the talk,” said Robert. “To be continued, this is the end of season one. Wait till you see season two.”
Their goal is to create “more desirable students, which in turn makes SNC more desirable,” said Robin.
The Holmans say the team at SNC that they have been working with are all driven to a common goal: seeing student success.
“We’ve been amazed at what wonderful team of people the college has and how everyone is so committed to its success and the success of the students. It’s fantastic,”said Robert.
Donating the building gave the Holmans the ability to guide their vision, but Robin would love to hear from the students and community; who the building is for.
“I’d like for them to know that I’m very approachable and very open to their ideas, and what they would like to see the art media center become,” said Robin. “I welcome their input and I would really value it to hear from them.”
Robin asks that students with ideas or suggestions about the building e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line: SNC Art and Media.
“I’m always curious, how can we make SNC better for the students,” said Robin.
*Originally published in Eagle’s Eye.