Clarkson University President Tony Collins was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Potsdam at its annual meeting on June 1. He was honored for his demonstrated commitment to the goals and purposes of Rotary and "in appreciation of their tangible assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world." Collins, who has served Clarkson University for 40 years, and as its president for nearly 20 years, will step down as its 16th president, this month.
Collins' Paul Harris Fellowship was made possible by a donation of points by Rotarian and Clarkson Class of 1953 alumnus Robert Hanna.
"I’ve been more than impressed with his presidency and his contribution to Clarkson, Potsdam and the North Country," said Hanna. "He is 'Mr. Clarkson' as far as I’m concerned."
Under Collins’ leadership, Clarkson’s Potsdam Hill Campus has been expanded both physically and in academic reach, while the downtown campus has been renovated and repurposed. Downtown buildings now house the Lewis School of Health Sciences and business incubators, while the original Snell Hall has been developed into residential apartments, supporting the economic revitalization of Potsdam.
The transition of moving undergraduate education to the Hill Campus has been completed, with all academic buildings, athletic facilities and residence halls renovated or expanded. Most of the funding has gone toward sustainability measures, which is built into all campus operations and academic programs.
In fact, the Clarkson Board of Trustees has named the Hill Campus "The Collins Hill Campus,” in recognition of the contributions President Collins and his wife, Karen, have made to the greater Clarkson community since coming to Potsdam.
During President Collins' tenure, Clarkson has grown from a primarily undergraduate-focused institution in one location, to a more comprehensive University, spread across three campuses.
Clarkson has expanded geographically with two additional campuses in Schenectady and Beacon, New York, and strong investment in graduate and professional programs. Its academic focus has been broadened from engineering, science and business, to now include health sciences.
A priority has been creating scholarships to support underrepresented students, including Black and Indigenous students. A campus climate has been created that is welcoming and responsive to the needs of all students, including ethnically diverse and LGBTQ students.
President Collins has been a booster for economic development in the North Country and throughout New York State, and a national advocate for higher education.
The Potsdam Rotary Club meets each Wednesday at noon at Yum Yum's Chilly Delight in Potsdam and online. Guests are welcome.
Photo caption (left to right): Rotarian and Clarkson alumnus Robert Hanna ‘53, Collins, Rotary District 7040 Governor Fay Campbell, and Potsdam Rotary President Taylor Robertson.