With the unanimous approval of the Board of Trustees, President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw announced on Sept. 11 at a reception in midtown Manhattan that the College of Professional Studies will be renamed“The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies.” This comes after the Collins’ contribution of $10 million donated to the college.
“All of us at St. John’s are deeply grateful to Lesley and Bill Collins for the extraordinary support that they have given and continue to give to our University,” President Gempesaw said.
“With a $10 million gift commitment, the generosity of Lesley and Bill Collins will provide scholarships for students through the University’s Partners for Student Success initiative and will also establish a Distinguished Chair position in the College.”
Lesley Collins is a 1983 graduate of St. Vincent’s College, CPS’ original name prior to its renaming in 1999. She has devoted her time with the St. John’s community for many years and has committed to improving others’ lives by serving on a number of educational, social services and philanthropic organizations in New York and Long Island, according to a news article on the St. John’s University website.
Bill Collins is a 1976 graduate of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and was awarded an honorary degree in 2012. He was the chair of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees from 2016 to 2019 and he served as a Trustee for 12 years. Together they’ve served St. John’s in a number of ways, such as Co-Chairs of the Annual President’s Dinner, and Co-Chairs of the Loughlin Society which recognizes leadership annual gift contributors to St. John’s.
They are also members of the Founders Society, which recognizes St. John’s generous and most exceptional supporters.
“Lesley and Bill know that St. John’s is about giving young people a chance,” William J. Janetchek, chair of the board of trustees said in his introductory remarks. “Together, and through their leadership and philanthropy, Lesley and Bill have been deeply committed to ensuring the success of the young women and men who study at St. John’s.”
The inaugural holder of the Lesley H. and William L. Collins Distinguished Chair and Dean’ of the Collins’ CPS is Dean Katia Passerini.
“This gift is transformational and recognizes the hard work of the past,” Passerini said. “Epitomizes our current strengths and paves the way for the success that is yet to come. The gift provides essential scholarships for our students who can enroll in professional and innovative programs, leading to graduate masters or excellent career placement prospects.”
Bill Collins’ academic scholarship made it possible for him to attend St. John’s. He grew up in Queens and like many of the University’s alumni and current students, is the child of immigrants. He was a student of the President’s Society and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Torch.
“I am an example, among many alumni, of the opportunities found at St. John’s — and I am so very grateful, for when I came to St. John’s, the University offered me an academic scholarship, “ Bill Collins said. “For me, that made all the difference.”