Lipscomb mourns the loss of longtime philosophy professor Bill Collins

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The Lipscomb community is mourning the loss of Bill Collins, retired professor of philosophy.

Collins died Jan. 21 after a long battle with cancer.

A native of Scotland, Collins joined the Lipscomb faculty in 1985 and retired in May 2012. He taught a variety of courses including introduction to philosophy, history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of religion, apologetics and worldviews. His areas of specialized academic interest included metaphysics, philosophy of religion, process philosophy, and epistemology. He was part of the Bible faculty until 1999 when philosophy was added to the newly reorganized Department of History, Politics and Philosophy.

“Students who registered for Bill’s classes signed up for an engaging conversation with some of history’s great thinkers, wrestling together with some of humanity’s persistent and relevant questions,” said Richard Goode, associate professor of history and chair of the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy. “The course syllabus may have focused on ancient Greek philosophers or contemporary intellectuals, but by the end of the term students realized that their own hearts and minds had turned toward wisdom. Simply stated, Bill personified the art of philosophy.”

Prior to coming to Lipscomb, Collins was on faculty at Southern Christian University and Faulkner University. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma Christian University, a Master of Arts degree from Harding University and a doctorate from the University of St. Andrews.

“Bill Collins was my teacher in college, a welcoming colleague and a spiritual mentor. He was unflappable in his demeanor and unfailing in his kindness,” said Marc Schwerdt, assistant professor of political science. “Bill, through his vocation, was able to bring to others and myself, something that is sorely lacking in much of modern life—a sense of perspective for things that trouble us all but for which we have little ability to make sense. He was able to take a dilemma that could twist me in knots and through his discipline, bring a resolution that was comforting and set my mind at ease. I will miss him.”

Tim Johnson, professor of history, said Collins was a valued colleague.

“Bill was conscientiously devoted to his students, his family and to God. I sought his counsel on more than one occasion when I served as department chair because I knew him to be wise, far-sighted, and even handed,” said Johnson. “A few moments in conversation with Bill was all it took to realize that he was a deep thinker. We will all miss his friendship and his wit.”

He was known for his quick wit and his thick Scottish accent.

“Bill always was well-liked by his students. He also read constantly in his discipline to stay abreast of the latest schools of thought. Bill loved science fiction as well and followed events in his native Scotland through the daily online newspapers,” said Jerry Gaw, professor of history.

“He was very quick-witted but never sarcastic or demeaning; in fact, I never remember Bill disparaging anyone, even when he disagreed with one's views or actions. He was a steady, non-judgmental advisor in an unsteady, biased society, who put God, the church, and his family ahead of the ever-changing world. It was a blessing to have known and worked with Bill.”

Colleage Dwight Tays, professor of political science, agrees.

"Bill and I came to Lipscomb in the same year of 1985 and early on attended church together," he said. "From that time forward I was impressed with how he could lift the spirits of others with his quick wit, his insightful knowledge of his discipline, his expectation of academic excellence from his students, his supportive friendship, and his abiding faith in God. He will be missed by many."

Visitation is Thursday, Jan. 24, from 2-8 p.m. at Harpeth Memory Gardens, Highway 100. Visitation is also set for Saturday, Jan. 26, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. followed by the funeral at 1 p.m. at Granny White Church of Christ in Nashville.