Former New College Foundation president dies

Gen. Rolland V. Heiser, former president of the New College Foundation.
Gen. Rolland V. Heiser, former president of the New College Foundation. PHOTO PROVIDED

Gen. Rolland V. Heiser, a former president of the New College Foundation, has died. He was 91.

Heiser was president of the New College Foundation from June 1979 to April 2003. In his first two years, he raised $6 million for the foundation. In recognition of his efforts, students dedicated the 1979-80 yearbook to him.

Heiser died June 16.

Former New College President Gordon Michalson, who worked closely with Heiser for a decade, said he was a powerful and persuasive advocate for New College.

“Ron had a genius for opening up doors in our wider community for New College,” Michalson said in a statement. “His advocacy on behalf of the college won us many friends and brought countless people to our campus for the first time. He secured New College’s future.”

Heiser had a 30-year U.S. Army career, serving in Korea and Vietnam and chief of staff of the U.S. European Command in Germany under Gen. Alexander Haig, who later became U.S. Secretary of State and White House chief of staff.

During his NCF tenure, Heiser established an endowment of more than $30 million, and brought more than $100 million to the campus. He also played a major role with the state Legislature to make New College of Florida an independent institution within the state system.

After retiring as president of the New College Foundation, he remained on the foundation board and served as a trustee emeritus until his death. New College’s Heiser Natural Sciences Center, which houses teaching and research labs for chemistry, biochemistry, biology, bioinformatics, computational science, mathematics and physics, is named in his honor.

A funeral service will be held at Toale Brothers Colonial Chapel, 40 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, at 10 a.m. Thursday with burial to follow at 12:30 pm in Sarasota National Cemetery.