At 28 years old, Louisiana State University PhD graduate Dr. Jim Collins and his friend applied to be assistant professor of agriculture at Arkansas Tech University; his friend was hired and Collins went back to Louisiana to work.
Little did he know, a year later he would receive a call to come for an interview at Tech. His friend who was hired at Tech had to leave, due to family issues, and Tech wanted to talk to Collins to see if he was the right fit.
While driving up from Louisiana he stopped in Morrilton to change, he had time to spare. Upon arriving at Tech, Collins sat in his car, still time to spare; he likes to be early. While he was sitting, a red and white Cadillac pulled up next to him and the driver asked, “Are you Jim?” Turns out the driver was Dr. Kenneth Pippin, head of the department of agriculture at the time, and the person who would be interviewing Collins.
“I got out of my car and got in his and that’s how the interview started,” Collins said. “I thank God I changed my clothes in Morrilton.”
Thirty-four years later, Collins is a professor of agriculture and is ready to pass on the torch. As of May 13, he will no longer be a professor at Tech but he will continue his role in the Miss Tech pageants as pageant executive director and master of ceremonies.
According to Collins, he is the only horticulturalist on staff and in his 34 years he has taught every class imaginable for agriculture but now he teaches classes such as plant propagation, green house management, fruits and almost anything to do with the green house.
“I am not really a field crop person,” Collins said. Growing up, his family were not farmers, in fact when he started college he was a pre-med major.
The decision to retire has been on his mind “for a few years,” but when his best friend died due to side effects of Alzheimer’s, he “realized it was time to retire.”
“I’ve saved up enough money,” Collins said, “and why have I gathered this money if I am not going to enjoy it.”
Collins says he enjoys teaching students and being involved in Miss Tech but he “hates grading papers and going to meetings.”
“Dr. Collins is a hoot and makes class interesting and fun,” an agriculture alumnus said. “He is truly passionate about horticulture, the plant sale and the poinsettia sale.”
Collins started the plant sales when he started here, a plant sale in the spring and a poinsettia sale in the fall. All the proceeds from the sales go back into the agriculture fund. With his retirement he “hopes the next person carries on the tradition.”
“I feel like I’m leaving on top, when they don’t want me to leave instead of saying thank God he’s finally gone,” Collins said.
Collins said he might teach an adjunct class now and then but he enjoys having the opportunity to say no but he doesn’t think he “needs to go to the greenhouses anymore, I don’t feel like I’ll ever go out there again.”
Collin plans to enjoy his retirement by slowly volunteering more, visiting family in California and being at home, enjoying all that he has done to make it his.