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Tobacco program endowment honoring Collins announced at CALS foundations spring meeting

The April 23 joint meeting of the N.C. Agricultural, Dairy and Tobacco foundations in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences brought good news for the CALS tobacco program. During the groups’ luncheon at the N.C. State University Club, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Dr. William K. Collins Sr. and Ann T. Collins and the N.C. Tobacco Foundation Inc. to create the Dr. William K. Collins Tobacco Agronomist Position in Research, Teaching and Extension Endowment.

At the same time, also announced was a planned Dr. William K. Collins Distinguished Professorship endowment to be established in the N.C. State Endowment Board.

CALS has set a goal to raise $10 to $12 million to endow both positions in perpetuity. The Collins family has given a generous $500,000 challenge to the rest of the tobacco family to raise the remaining resources.

“To ensure that N.C. State can continue to support the tobacco industry and growers at the level they need and deserve, we must secure additional, permanent faculty support through private funding for our tobacco agronomic programs,” said CALS Advancement’s Keith Oakley, president of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc.

Collins is a retired CALS crop science professor and Extension tobacco specialist and a world-leading tobacco production expert and international ambassador for the U.S. tobacco industry. A North Carolina native, he is a CALS alumnus who earned his N.C. State bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy and field crops; he received his Ph.D. in crop breeding from Iowa State University.

The establishment of tobacco program endowments in his name honors his lifetime contributions to the university and provides N.C. State with much-needed support to continue to lead research in the specialized discipline of flue-cured tobacco production.

During the luncheon, Dr. Rich Linton, CALS dean, who hosted the event, thanked the Collinses for their generous contribution. He then announced that their challenge is on the way to being met. “As of today, we are at $2.867 million towards a $10 million goal, with special thanks also to Universal Tobacco for their $1.125 million donation and U.S. Tobacco Cooperative for their $500,000 gift,” Linton said.

Shown at the April 23 memorandum signing are (from left) Brian C. Sischo of University Advancement, William Collins, Ann Collins and CALS Dean Rich Linton.
Shown at the April 23 memorandum signing are (from left) Brian C. Sischo of University Advancement, William Collins, Ann Collins and CALS Dean Rich Linton.

Joining Linton and the Collinses in signing the memorandum were Brian C. Sischo, vice chancellor for University Advancement; Dr. Sam Pardue, director of CALS Academic Programs; Dr. Steve Lommel, director of the N.C. Agricultural Research Service; and Dr. Joe Zublena, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.

The endowment signing followed a luncheon agenda in which members of the foundations heard updates from Lommel, on the Plant Sciences Initiative; Pardue, on Rural Student Access programs; and Dr. Sheri Schwab, associate director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, on the NCCES strategic planning. – Terri Leith