2016 Influential Women in Business: Tina Holland

(Photography by Marie Constantin)


Changing curriculum at Our Lady of the Lake College to better tailor classes for the needs of the local business community.

Working to increase funding for scholarships and raise enrollment.

U.S. Naval Academy graduate who spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

An avid baseball fan and student of the game, Our Lady of the Lake College President Tina Holland draws parallels between the national pastime and success in life.

“I see the philosophy of 90 feet at a time,” Holland says, referring to the space between each base around the baseball diamond. “Success is a series of small advances done successfully.”

Indeed, her career has been a series of steps, both large and small, that led her in April 2014 to take the top post of the Catholic college, which itself has grown from a small nursing school to a mission-driven private university.

Holland served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps before taking a job as an adjunct professor at Holy Cross College in Indiana. While rising up through the administrative ranks to executive vice president and provost, she took the time to earn a master’s degree in international relations from the University of San Diego and a doctorate in higher education from Indiana State University. Holland’s path around the bases has more than prepared the Naval Academy graduate for her current position.

But make no mistake, Holland is here in Baton Rouge because she believes in and is passionate about the mission and core values of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. She says she would have stayed in Indiana if she did not wholeheartedly believe in the Franciscan Missionaries’ mission and values.

Among those core values is service, which is something Holland and OLOL College take very seriously.

When she arrived in Baton Rouge, Holland was happy to find entrenched ties to the community in place, forged from years of services by OLOL College students, faculty and staff. Seeing those ties, and knowing the emphasis being placed on workforce development in Louisiana by local and state leaders, Holland decided to change the curriculum to match the developing needs of local businesses.

Through interviews and meetings with business leaders such as those at Louisiana Economic Development, Holland and the administration learned what skills employers look for in job applicants and began tailoring the curriculum to fit those needs—while staying true to the college’s mission.

“We take great pride in being able to say our faculty are very open to developing the curriculum that way,” she says.

To that end, the college is working toward adding a bachelor’s degree in theology, along with two other bachelor’s degrees in business administration, and health promotion and wellness. It’s also looking to add master’s degrees in nutritional science and family nurse practitioner, as well as a doctorate in physical therapy to go along with the more than a dozen other programs offered at OLOL College.

While working to add the programs, Holland keeps busy by shaking hands with wealthy philanthropists in the Baton Rouge area as she attempts to expand the college’s scholarship fund. She can regularly be seen at meetings of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge and the local Legatus chapter, holding membership in both clubs.

Unless there is an irreconcilable scheduling conflict, Holland also takes every offer she gets to speak to local groups and clubs, because she feels it’s a good way to spread the gospel of what OLOL College does in the community.

“Sadly, it’s one of the best kept secrets here in town,” she says of the college, “and I have it as my goal to blow the lid off this secret.”

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