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Collins Endowment receives $1 million from Altria

NC State University programs in support of the tobacco industry have received a significant boost with a recent $1 million donation to an endowment at the university. On Nov. 14, Altria, one of the United States’ largest tobacco corporations, presented a $1 million check to the Dr. William K. Collins Tobacco Agronomist Position in Research, Teaching and Extension Endowment, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State.

Altria, previously Philip Morris Inc., of Richmond, Va., is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton Inc. and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company Inc. Philip Morris USA has been for many years a strong supporter of NC State, in the mission to ensure that the university remains at the forefront in serving tobacco farmers, the tobacco industry and related agribusinesses.

Accepting the donation to the endowment were Dr. William K. and Ann Collins, along with Dr. Richard Linton, CALS dean. Also present were Dr. Loren Fisher, CALS professor of Crop Science and Extension tobacco specialist, Frank Grainger of the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation and Keith Oakley of CALS Advancement.

Linton thanked Altria’s Shannon Smalley, who presented the check, and also expressed his appreciation to the Collinses for creating the endowment. “This is all about a legacy of support of the tobacco industry and maintaining NC State’s leadership in tobacco agronomic programs in the Southeast,” he said.

The Collins Endowment was announced this past April with establishing contributions by the Collins family toward a goal of more than $10 million to endow a tobacco agronomist position and a distinguished professorship in the college. In June, Linton announced more than $5 million had been raised toward that goal, at an event where the endowment then received more than $3.2 million in combined donations from tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Universal Leaf and Alliance One.

Collins is a retired CALS Crop Science professor and Extension tobacco specialist and a world-leading tobacco production expert who previously coordinated the tobacco programs at NC State for 13 years. He is a CALS alumnus who earned his NC State bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy and field crops; his Ph.D. in crop breeding is from Iowa State University.

The establishment of the tobacco program endowment in his name honors Collins’ lifetime contributions to the university and provides NC State with much-needed support to continue research, extension and teaching in the specialized discipline of flue-cured tobacco production.

– Terri Leith