Perspectives Online

N.C. State alumni plan $2.5 million gift to CALS, Engineering


Keith and Margaret Collins, both of whom are N.C. State alumni, will establish endowments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science.Becky Kirkland Photo

A Raleigh couple has made a planned estate gift of approximately $2.5 million to North Carolina State University that includes funding for a professorship, scholarships and the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The planned gift from Keith and Margaret Collins, both of whom are N.C. State alumni, will establish endowments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science.

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Margaret "Margie" P. Collins Fund already provides annual support for the CALS Ambassadors student leadership program and two undergraduate student leaders scholarships.

When fully realized, the Collinses' gift will establish several named endowments to benefit the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: the Margie Collins Endowment for the JC Raulston Arboretum, the Margie Collins Endowment for the CALS Ambassadors, and the Margie Collins Scholarship Endowment for CALS, which will fund a number of leadership and merit-based scholarships.

"Margie and Keith are a true inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for their generous support," said Dr. Johnny Wynne, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Not only are the Collinses creating opportunities for students who might not otherwise be able to pay for a college education, they are creating an important and lasting legacy that will benefit the college and the university in perpetuity."

In the College of Engineering, the charitable bequest establishes the Collins Distinguished Professorship in Computer Science. The endowment is intended to help the computer science department attract top talent to study ways to use data management and high-performance computing in development of large-scale business analytic solutions. This is the largest planned gift in the history of the computer science department.

The gift also establishes the Collins Leadership and Computational Excellence Scholarship in Computer Science, which will be awarded to top students who have demonstrated strong aptitude and interest in research and mathematics. The Collins Computer Science Discretionary Fund will give the department head additional resources to recruit students and faculty, provide support for student organizations, support lecture series and make faculty awards, among other initiatives.

"This comprehensive and visionary gift endows a professorship, a scholarship and other discretionary funds for our computer science department, all of which help us achieve our high-priority objectives of recruiting and retaining top faculty and educating bright students," said Dr. Louis A. Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering. "Keith and Margie Collins, through this gift and Keith's past service on the N.C. State Engineering Foundation Board of Directors, have been wonderful supporters of the college, and we thank them for their commitment to engineering and computer science research and education here at N.C. State."

The Collinses have been longtime supporters of N.C. State, and their earlier support included establishing an endowment to attract more underrepresented groups to computer science.

Keith Collins, who graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in computer science, joined SAS Institute in 1984 and is currently senior vice president and chief technology officer at the company. In 2003, he became the first computer science graduate to be named a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus by the College of Engineering. He is a current or former board member for several NC State groups and Triangle-area non-profit organizations.

Margie Collins received her bachelor's degree in horticultural science from N.C. State in 1979. She worked in sales and management at a local nursery and later returned to N.C. State to study accounting. She then spent eight years as the local accountant for the Hunton and Williams law firm. She has also been a volunteer leader for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the Woman's Club of Raleigh. The couple met in 1979 when they were students at N.C. State. —Suzanne Stanard and Jennifer Weston