Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in the Johnson City Press on Saturday, Jan. 28.
From planning residence halls to overseeing budgets, if it’s happened on East Tennessee State University’s campus in the recent past, David Collins likely had a hand in it in some capacity.
A stable presence at the university for almost 35 years, Collins, ETSU’s vice president for finance and administration, will retire from his position Tuesday, Jan. 31. However, he will continue in a part-time role for several months as a consultant for the officials who will take on his responsibilities and to advise on the university’s new budget model. His last official day will be May 31.
Collins was hired at the university after serving as a state auditor in North Carolina.
“I was looking for something different, I was wanting to get back on the operational side and internal audit seemed like a good thing to do,” he said.
Collins first worked as the university’s director of internal audits and gradually moved through the ranks to his current position, which was originally limited to business and finance, in 2003. Collins was put in charge of administration several years later, and his responsibilities have evolved over the years, encompassing human resources, public safety and the office of information technology, which has since split off into its own separate department.
He is also responsible for the university’s multi-million dollar budget.
“Anything money or administration-wise basically came through my office and I was responsible for it,” Collins said.
When he leaves, Collins’ responsibilities will be split between B.J. King, the senior associate vice president for financial services, and Jeremy Ross, the chief of staff for external operations and executive director of the ETSU Research Foundation.
In an email sent to ETSU faculty and staff on Tuesday, ETSU President Brian Noland laid out the specific responsibilities King and Ross will take on in conjunction with their current roles on Feb. 1. King will serve as the acting chief financial officer of the institution, overseeing financial services, budget, procurement, payroll and auxiliary services financing. Ross will take on the role of acting chief operating officer, overseeing public safety, space utilization and human resources.
Collins has seen the university change dramatically over his tenure — new dorms have been built, the university’s grounds have been beautified and the old foundry that used to sit on the corner of the ETSU campus off Walnut Street has since been turned into a large parking lot.
He has been involved in the financial planning for many projects on the ETSU campus, but when he leaves in May, Collins said he’ll miss the people more than anything.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Collins said. “I don’t get these things done alone.”