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Presidential tenure


Biographical Data

Personal: 1855-1938, born at Hollins.

Education: Full Graduate, Hollins Institute, 1874. Awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from Roanoke College in 1926.

Family: Single.

Previous Employment: Taught mathematics, secretary to the superintendent, registrar, and librarian at Hollins.

After Hollins: Retired from Hollins, maintained her home on campus, in Eastnor.


  • Charles Lewis Cocke originally chose Charles Henry, her brother as successor but due to his sons' premature death, Martha L. Cocke was selected as the new head of Hollins.
  • Affectionately known as “Miss Matty,” her birthday continues to be celebrated each year with cake and a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
  • Miss Matty was the first woman college president in Virginia.

Events that took place during tenure

  • Assumed presidency immediately following her father’s death, in 1901.
  • Construction and Renovation: Robbie Burton Alumnae Cottage, Rath Haus, Charles Lewis Cocke Memorial Building, Starkie (now Swananoah), Rose Hill, Malvern Hill, French House, Pleasants Science Hall, Duchouquet, Little Theatre, Tayloe Gymnasium, Presser Hall, Eastnor, Beale Garden, power plant, sewage system, enlargement of the reservoir on the mountain ; Pleasants fire and renovation.
  • Academic Changes: A.B. and B. Music degrees offered, replacing the “full graduate” diploma; school of music established; preparatory department eliminated; faculty committees, including Freshmen advising, established.
  • Status change from institute to college; Hollins incorporated.
  • The Great Depression and World War I.


College and University Presidents