DAVENPORT — Jim Collins, a 1969 St. Ambrose University alumnus and longtime leader in efforts to enhance and promote diversity, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during SAU’s spring commencement ceremony.
Collins, who also is a Trustee Emeritus of the SAU Board of Trustees, will deliver the commencement address during the graduation ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. May 14 at the iWireless Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline, Ill.
He began his professional career with Deere & Company, working in the foundry while completing his studies at St. Ambrose. He rose through the ranks to serve as equal employment opportunity coordinator and director of affirmative action. Collins retired in 2008 as the director of Deere’s Corporate Citizenship Center of Excellence and president of the John Deere Foundation.
He has been a leader and adviser to the Diversity Work Group at St. Ambrose and a founding contributor to the Freeman Pollard Endowment Fund, which provides scholarship assistance to minority students.
Collins and his wife Karen received the McMullen Award from St. Ambrose last year for their dedication to the St. Ambrose community. They are members of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
“Our dear friend and alumnus, Mr. Jim Collins, is most deserving of this honor,” said St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. “Jim has enriched so many lives, both here and in the community, and I know our students will benefit greatly from his words of wisdom, challenge and encouragement.”
Honorary degrees will also be conferred to Tom (SAU ’72) and Caren Bakrow Laughlin (SAU ’76). Tom Laughlin worked 34 years as the founding executive director of the River Bend Foodbank. His wife supported that work in a volunteer capacity before taking on an official role as director of marketing for the nonprofit agency.
“The Laughlins have served our community for decades,” said Sr. Lescinski. “Under their leadership, work and care, the food bank now serves 22 counties in Iowa and Illinois, making a very real difference in the lives of many individuals and families.”
For more information about SAU’s commencement, go to www.sau.edu/commencement.