Collins named dean at USC Lancaster

From staff reportsApril 1, 2013 

Walter P. Collins III has been named dean of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he has served as assistant dean of student affairs since 2011.

His appointment was announced Friday (by South Carolina Palmetto College Chancellor Susan Elkins, who said Collins’ success as a collaborative leader coupled with his campus and community experience make him the ideal choice to succeed John Catalano, who retired after 11 years as dean at USCL.

“Dr. Collins is a dynamic leader who will no doubt continue and deepen his commitment and dedication to USC Lancaster and the community through his service as campus dean,” said Elkins, who, as chancellor, directs the university’s four regional campuses at Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union that comprise part of Palmetto College.

She said Collins will play a vital role in ensuring the success of Palmetto College.

“Dr. Collins will foster the continued growth and success of the quality associate’s degree programs available to students on the Lancaster campus,” Elkins said. “Dean Collins will provide leadership for the institution and the community as Palmetto College both strengthens the current role of the regional campus and brings new accessible, affordable and flexible bachelor’s degrees to students in the Lancaster area.”

Collins, 43, said he is pleased to have been selected to lead USC Lancaster, where he has taught since 2002.

“I’m honored to serve as dean of this great campus,” Collins said. “USC Lancaster benefits from strong and deep ties to the university community and the community at large. I believe in those strong bonds, and I am confident that they will continue to sustain the campus and help faculty, professional staff and administrators meet the educational needs of our students.”

Collins said in the past 10 years he has seen the USCL campus experience tremendous growth, transforming into a “vibrant and dynamic place to study, learn and grow” and that he looks forward to guiding its future.

“I welcome the opportunity as dean of USC Lancaster to help reshape higher education opportunities in South Carolina through the implementation and launch of Palmetto College and find new and innovative ways to support faculty in their teaching and research and students in their studies.”

Collins served as acting assistant dean of student affairs from 2008 until being named to the position in 2011. As assistant dean of student affairs at USCL, he has overseen program development for athletics, student life and orientation programs, law enforcement and security and counseling services.

He also coordinates University 101, USC Connect and travel study. During his tenure at USCL, he has served on numerous committees including ones for faculty tenure and promotion, athletics, commencement, scholarship, assessment and student affairs.

He serves on the boards of directors of Lancaster County’s Communities in Schools, Chamber of Commerce and Rotary International.

As an African literature scholar, Collins has written extensively, including his book “Tracing Personal Expansion: Reading Selected Novels as Modern African Bildungsromane,” and “Emerging African Voices,” which he edited in 2010.

He began his academic career in 1999 as an instructor of French at the University of South Carolina, where he taught for two years before teaching French and English as an associate professor at USCL. He is actively involved in a number of professional associations including the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Southern Comparative Literature Association and the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers Association.

A first-generation college student, Collins earned his bachelor and master’s degrees in French literature from Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively, and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of South Carolina.

“I chose French literature because French culture fascinated me. I chose a career in higher education because I wanted to help students achieve their academic and professional goals. As a first-generation college student, I find it particularly rewarding to witness the success of today’s first-generation college students.”

A native of Clinton, N.C., Collins and his wife, Ashley, have four children, Jack, Abby, Caroline and Ellie. His appointment will become effective May 1.

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