Trustee Donates $2.5 Million to SEAS

Gift from Terry and Alisann Collins will support undergraduate students, create endowed professorship.

October 16, 2014

Terry and Alisann Collins

Terry and Alisann Collins are donating $1.5 million to GW to establish the Alisann and Terry Collins Endowed Scholarship and $1 million to create an endowed professorship in biomedical engineering or a related discipline.

A $2.5 million donation from a member of the George Washington University Board of Trustees will create scholarships for students and support for faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Trustee Terry Collins, D.Sc. ’76, and his wife, Alisann, are donating $1.5 million to GW to establish the Alisann and Terry Collins Endowed Scholarship (with preference to first-generation college students) and $1 million to create an endowed professorship in biomedical engineering or a related discipline.

"This extraordinary act of generosity by Terry and Alisann Collins will open our doors to excellent students who otherwise might not have imagined that a George Washington education was in their future," GW President Steven Knapp said. “It will also increase our ability to ensure that those students are taught by the world’s finest professors.”

The scholarship will support eight undergraduate students in SEAS. Mr. Collins, a member of the SEAS National Advisory Council, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before completing a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin and his doctorate at GW.

“Talented faculty and students reinforce each other’s thinking and innovation, so by designating their gift to support both scholarships and a professorship, Terry and Alisann are creating a multiplier effect for learning and research,” said David Dolling, dean of SEAS. “By designing the scholarships with a preference for students who are the first in their families to attend college, they also are creating opportunities for them.”

Mr. Collins was the first person in his family to attend college. He enrolled at MIT, he said, “by happenstance” when, as a high school student in Kansas City, he attended a college fair but found the lines to speak to recruiters from various local colleges were too long.

“There was a guy at a table sitting by himself with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology sign, so I just walked up to him so he had someone to talk to,” he told the SEAS alumni magazine Synergy. “Lo and behold, I ended up getting a scholarship to go there. Without that scholarship I would not have been able to attend such an outstanding university. I want to make sure that good students can get quality education independent of family income.”

Mr. Collins taught part-time in SEAS from 1976 to 1979 while working at the Naval Research Lab. He joined Engineering Research Associates in 1979 and ERA was acquired by E-Systems in 1989. When E-Systems was acquired by Raytheon in 1995 he continued at Raytheon until 1997 when he and colleagues Vic Sellier and Tom Murdock formed Argon Engineering Associates (later Argon ST). Argon ST was purchased by Boeing in 2010 and Terry continued with Boeing into 2013.

Mr. Collins was elected to the Board of Trustees last year. He said GW’s recent investments in SEAS, which include the construction of Science and Engineering Hall and an emphasis on research and development, played a role in the decision to make the gift.

“Alisann and I were motivated by the current momentum in SEAS and the need for science and engineering leadership in the nation’s capital,” Mr. Collins said. “We all know that science and engineering are critical to solving many current and future problems and we want our students to be able to lead in solving these problems.