Anthony 'Tony' Collins (1966)

Anthony ‘Tony’ Collins, a Mount Eliza resident as a schoolboy, joined Mentone Grammar in 1958 in Year 4 entering the newly built Junior School. He quickly established himself both academically and on the sporting field, performing well in junior cricket, football and swimming.

He was joined on the Frankston train line by other Mentone notables including fellow Tony Drinan Medal winner, Glenn Bowes, and from 1961 Steve Cannon and Peter Saunders, who all became firm friends and academic competitors in the classroom.

Tony shone in leadership roles becoming a Prefect in 1966, and Vice-Captain of School House (now Drinan House) in the same year. He was also an outstanding member of the First XVIII football team in 1966 and rose to the rank of Cadet Under Officer in the School’s Army Cadet Unit.

Upon leaving school, Tony completed a degree in civil engineering at Monash University in 1970. Following a brief stint as an engineer in Sydney, Tony decided to pursue further academic studies after winning a postgraduate scholarship to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA, where he completed both his master’s and doctoral degrees. During this period, he also spent time in Australia working for Australian Consolidated Industries and the Utah Development Company in Queensland.

After receiving his PhD in 1982, Tony launched his career at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York State – a private, national research university and proven leader in technological education and sustainable economic development. There Tony progressed from Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering to full Professor, Department Chair, Dean, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and Provost. During that time, he received awards for outstanding teaching, research, and advising. He also lectured internationally and authored more than 90 publications.

Professor Tony Collins was elected the 16th President of Clarkson University in 2003.

Tony is a regional and national advocate for education-industry partnerships that couple research discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise for commercialisation and economic development focusing on advancing sustainable energy solutions and environmental technology innovation.

In May 2014, Tony was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Prior to this, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, appointed Tony in July 2011 to serve as co-chair for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, a role he fulfilled until February 2019. Tony also served on a commission established by Governor Cuomo in November 2012 to investigate and study utility companies’ storm preparation and management; and to recommend reforms to overhaul regulation of the entire system to better deal with emergencies. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was appointed in 2020 to join the Reimagine Task Force to reopen education in New York State. He is also a member of the panel Governor Cuomo has tasked to advise the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the redesigns of New York’s airports and the supporting infrastructure to attract additional commercial activity. On a local level, he is President of the Seaway Private Equity Corporation that invests in new technology companies based in St Lawrence County, New York.

In service to the higher education sector, Tony served as the 2020 to 2021 Chair of the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), and a Chair Emeritus and Trustee of New York’s Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities. In addition, he was named in the City & State New York ‘Higher Education Power 50’ list, honouring the 50 most powerful New Yorkers working in higher education, serving on the Board of the Business Council of New York State.

As Clarkson’s 16th President, Tony was the principal architect in the ‘Vision of a Clarkson Education’ that has guided an evolution of the curriculum since 1995. As President, he also led the University’s ‘Evolution to Excellence’, a comprehensive strategic plan to elevate Clarkson’s academic reputation, strengthen its financial resources, and increase the lifetime engagement of alumni and the greater Clarkson community.

In addition to connecting with Clarkson alumni across the globe, Tony and his wife Karen, who together have four children, are active in the Potsdam community and have volunteered for numerous organisations and youth programs.

Tony has advanced the reputation of Clarkson University, a nationally ranked institution whose 44,000 living alumni are well represented in the leadership ranks of American business, where one in five serves as CEO, President, Vice President, founder or owner of a company.

In 2021, Tony became a very worthy recipient of The Mentonians Association’s highest honour, the Tony Drinan Medal. Stepping down from his role as President of Clarkson at the end of 2022, after 40 years at the University, including 19 years in the top job, Tony leaves an enduring contribution to the higher education landscape.