Jim Collins is now the longest-serving president in school’s history
DUBUQUE, Iowa – The Loras College Board of Regents has announced a five-year extension of President Jim Collins’ contract making him the longest-serving president of the school. Entering his 15th year, Collins became the youngest president in Loras’ history in 2004.
Board Chair Anthony Reardon, a 1972 graduate of Loras, made the announcement at its May meeting.
“The Loras Board of Regents has been extremely pleased with Jim’s leadership over the past 14 years and this contract extension, offered with the unanimous consent of the Board, is a testimony of our commitment to Jim’s outstanding performance as the President of Loras,” he said. “Over this last contract period, Jim has guided Loras on a path to meet our vision of excelling in the development of principled thinkers and caring professionals in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions. Loras is now entering a new period of growth excellence with challenges that will require the strong stewardship that Jim will provide. We look forward to continued success in the years to come under Jim’s capable leadership.”
Collins, the 26th president of the College, has served his alma mater ever since graduating from Loras with a finance degree in 1984. Collins returned to campus as an admissions representative and in his 34 years of service to the College has held positions as director of special projects, director of alumni and college relations, interim director of development, assistant to the president and vice president for institutional advancement. In 1999, he was appointed the College’s senior vice president. Collins was then elected president in 2004.
Under his leadership, graduation, retention, job placement and fundraising numbers are all at historic highs.
“I have always respected and appreciated President Collins’ hard work and remarkable dedication to the College, as well as his clarity of speech and institutional vision,” said John Eby, associate professor of history. “But in my recent role as Faculty Chair over the past three years, I have grown to admire him even more. Loras is full of dedicated people who offer themselves generously to the College and the broader community of Duhawks, but there is no one who does so more than President Collins. He understands that the best leadership is defined not by the use of power but by direct care for people, putting others and the institution before oneself, and building cooperation and consensus.”
Loras has also completed numerous new construction and major renovation projects. They include the Athletic & Wellness Center, built in 2007-08, Loras Parkway, Einstein’s Bros Bagels, built in 2015, two renovations to Rock Bowl Stadium, updates to classrooms and labs inside the St. Joseph Hall of Science, renovations to The Café student dining, the Pub eatery, new tennis courts and enhancements to the Graber Sports Center, and renovations to Keane Hall to house the Francis J. Noonan School of Business and a new main entrance that is underway.
During Collins’ time at Loras, the College launched several academic offerings to guide students toward career and life skills. They include the Noonan School of Business, a postbaccalaureate premedical program, a neuroscience major, study abroad programs in Portugal and Argentina, a business analytics major, a wealth management and financial planning minor, an ABET-accredited engineering program, a school counseling graduate program, an MBA in analytics, and an athletic training graduate program. All distinguish Loras among peer institutions as it forges forward with its commitment to add value to every degree.
“He shows his support and commitment to the students and the community through all outlets, attending sporting events, choir and band concerts, legacy presentations and senior projects, and even continues to stay involved during his home life via Twitter,” Emily Ney, president of the Student Body, said. “We are lucky to have him for another five years.”
Loras has also enjoyed growing national recognition during Collins’ tenure. In June, the College received the highest ranking in Iowa and was recognized as one of the 10 best in the 2018 College Consensus Best Catholic Colleges rankings. Overall, Loras ranked 26 out of 127 that made the list. National acknowledgments also include ranking 11 out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges; 2016 Washington Monthly; 13th Best Regional College, Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges; and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, Forbes Magazine. In addition, Loras ranked fifth among Iowa’s 48 colleges and universities in Top College Consensus’ Best Colleges ranking.
On the sports side, Men’s Volleyball, Spirit Squad and Women’s Lacrosse were introduced under Collins’ guidance. Loras finished the 2017-18 athletic season 38 among 450 Division III programs in the Learfield Directors’ Cup Standings with 436 points. The finish marks the third consecutive year in which the Duhawks have placed higher than the year previous, each of which has set a new high for the College.
“We are extremely fortunate to have President Collins’ leadership,” Denise Udelhofen, director of Loras Athletics, said. “It’s rare to have a president that understands the value athletics can bring to an institution. The success that we have had within our athletic department is a direct correlation to the support and vested interest President Collins has for Duhawk Athletics. This doesn’t happen without the support of the entire Loras community and President Collins leads that charge.”
Collins continues to guide higher education and organizations on local and national scales. He has served as chair, Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities; chair, Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities; chair, Greater Dubuque Development Corporation; Executive Committee, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities; Executive Committee, Iowa College Foundation and Executive Committee, Seton Hall University Board of Regents.
Collins and his wife, Lisa, have six children and all six will have attended and/or graduated from Loras.
ABOUT LORAS COLLEGE
Loras leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan institutions to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras ranks among 450 NCAA Division III athletic programs in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings, 13th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.