G. Williard Collins (1915- 2007)
Willard Collins has played an active role in the life of Lipscomb University for over 50 years. He is admired by faculty, students and alumni for his commitment to education and service. He embraces the essence of a Christian university striving for academic excellence and spiritual integrity. He arrived at Lipscomb as a student in 1934 from his hometown of Lewisburg, Tennessee. After graduating from Lipscomb in 1936, he went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt and received honorary doctorates from Harding and Pepperdine.
Collins joined the Lipscomb staff in 1944 as associate director of the Lipscomb Expansion Program. He served 27 years as vice president before accepting the presidency of the college 1977. He held that position until his retirement in 1986. He became chancellor following his retirement from the presidency and was appointed president emeritus in 1989.
Outside of his service to Lipscomb University, Collins preached in countless congregations across the United States. He began preaching in 1934 in Farmington, Tennessee. In 1939, he moved to Old Hickory and accepted the challenge of the third largest congregation among churches of Christ in Davidson County. He then moved to Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ in 1947. Though his duties at Lipscomb consumed much of his time, he continued to devote time to preaching throughout his lifetime.
His full story as both preacher and educator was told in Willard Collins: The People Person (20th Century Christian, 1986).