While most students are taking advantage of the summer months by spending their beloved vacation on sandy beaches or in the crisp forests of national parks, you can still find Harding staff busy at work around campus, eagerly awaiting students’ return in late August. You can still pick up packages at the post office, buy an Asiago bagel at Einstein’s, and check out books at Brackett Library.
And you can find Executive Vice President David Collins working hard to make Harding a better place when classes begin in the fall.
“Nothing compares to the school year,” Collins said. “That’s when our whole purpose is here. If you think about it, our purpose is missing. But during the summer we’re reflecting on our purpose, and we’re looking forward to the new year.”
Collins’ role on campus is multi-faceted. His duties include assisting President Bruce McLarty in the daily operations of the university and providing leadership over six university divisions — the Center for Student Success, counseling center, health services, international programs, public safety and student life. His role is an important one, and it’s one that doesn’t take a break.
“Any summer for us is definitely a different pace, but there’s just as much work to be done,” Collins said. “We’re able to do a little more reflecting and thinking about how we did this past year and then begin thinking strategically about the next year.”
Assessment, adjustment and planning tops the summer to-do list for Collins and those with whom he works alongside. Whether it is policy assessment or reviewing senior exit surveys, Collins said summertime is all about taking to heart students’ concerns and then applying them to make the upcoming school year the best it can be.
“Like everybody, we look forward to the break and the change of pace, but about halfway through the summer, we all start getting anxious and energetic about the school year starting,” Collins said. “All the momentum is building — making sure the residence halls are ready and making sure everything is in place for the students to arrive.”
When he’s not in his office or on campus working during the summer, you can find Collins fishing for rainbow trout on the cool currents of the Little Red River or spending some cherished time with his family. Collins’ summertime message to the student body is simple — the staff is in constant prayer and steadfast preparation for students and their return.
“We’re working diligently to make this next year at Harding the very best its ever been,” Collins said. “We want them to forget about us for a little bit and take a break, but at the same time, we want the students to know we’re not taking a break from them. We’re here for them.”
Kaleb Turner, public relations intern