|University of the South at Sewanee|
The University of the South at Sewanee is noted in higher education for its honor code. So it's curious that one of the school's most prominent alums has no concerns about breaking bread earlier this year with Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins--even though our reporting has shown, and public records make clear, Mr. Rollins hardly is an honorable fellow.
Sewanee, which is just north of Chattanooga, Tennessee, enjoys a reputation as one of the nation's finest private, liberal-arts colleges. Anna Durham Windrow, head of The Windrow Group in Nashville, has more than 25 years of experience in government relations and is a prominent and visible alumna of Sewanee. She has served on the school's Alumni Board and its College Visiting Committee.
Earlier this year, Windrow met with Ted Rollins and his daughter, Sarah, having lunch and showing them around the campus. Windrow is so close to Sewanee that she has a home in the mountains near the school.
Sarah Rollins wound up being admitted to Sewanee and became part of the freshman class in August. Best we can tell, Ms. Rollins is a bright young woman who would merit inclusion in the Sewanee student body, on her own merits. So why was Ted Rollins the one to lead the visit with Anna Durham Windrow? Why was Sherry Carroll Rollins, the mother and Birmingham resident who actually raised Sarah and her sister Emma, kept at an arm's distance?
I contacted Anna Durham Windrow recently to ask this primary question: Was she aware that Ted Rollins had taken steps in an Alabama divorce case that would lead to Sarah and her mother and sister winding up on food stamps? Was she aware that Ted Rollins had been convicted for a brutal assault on his stepson? Was she aware that Ted Rollins had been investigated for child sexual abuse in North Carolina?
|Anna Durham Windrow|
Ms. Windrow gave a reasonable answer, and one hardly can blame her for wanting to focus on Sarah Rollins and not her father. If I had an opportunity to deflect attention away from Ted Rollins, I would do it, too. But it still does not answer this question: How does Ted Rollins, and his considerable ethical baggage, fit with an institution that sends the following message to its students?
In signing the Honor Code, you are pledging on your honor not to lie, cheat or steal or more simply put, to live honorably as a part of the Sewanee Community.
If Sewanee takes honor this seriously, why did it even allow Ted Rollins on campus? Is Rollins, trying to wrangle a deal where he can build one of his The Grove apartment complexes on the pristine Sewanee campus? If so, would this institution of honor conduct business with a CEO of dishonor?
We don't have the answers to those questions at the moment. But we do have my conversation with Anna Durham Windrow, and she was made well aware of the ugliness in Ted Rollins closet. You can check it out in the video below.
Actually, Ms. Windrow is aware of only a portion of the ugliness regarding Ted Rollins. I did not tell her about a maid discovering roughly 100 towels, soiled with fecal matter and other debris, in a closet at the family home back in the 1990s--around the time of the investigation regarding child sexual abuse. I did not tell Ms. Windrow of stories Sherry Rollins has shared with me on multiple occasions about two mysterious automobile accidents, involving both her and her daughters, in the years leading to her divorce from Ted Rollins. Ms. Windrow also wasn't told about a three-story fall that Ms. Rollins' son suffered while working on scaffolding at one of Ted Rollins' properties. That's the same son that Mr. Rollins assaulted--and the same son who was at the heart of the investigation for possible sexual abuse. The fall resulted in life-threatening injuries that required multiple surgeries and caused the son to lose his spleen.
Just how dishonorable is Ted Rollins? Why have Sherry Rollins and at least three of her four children experienced curious accidents that put their lives at risk? We will examine those questions in upcoming posts.
As for Ms. Windrow, she and I agree on one thing: It's heartening to see Sarah Rollins as part of the Sewanee family, especially given the hell Ted Rollins forced her, her mother, and her sister to experience. I've only had one conversation with Sarah Rollins, and that came when she called me out of the blue a few months ago. On that occasion, she seemed to want to talk about the relationship between her father and her half brother, the stepson Ted Rollins did abuse physically and was alleged to have abused sexually.
Sarah Rollins clearly was troubled by the relationship, and she did not pull any punches about what she understands to have gone on with her father and half brother. I found her to be most articulate and insightful.
We will examine her take on a difficult subject shortly, but for now, here is my discussion with Anna Durham Windrow: