Dennis Collins Named Occidental College Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Dennis A. Collins has been appointed senior vice president for institutional advancement and external relations at Occidental College.

The former president and CEO of the James Irvine Foundation will leave his consulting practice in philanthropy and higher education to take up his new role Nov. 16.

"Occidental has been a major force in my life for over 40 years," said Collins, who stepped down as chairman of the Occidental College Board of Trustees to take his new job. "I’m excited about the prospect of resuming an administrative role at the institution where I began my professional career, and helping to deepen and expand the century-old culture of philanthropy at Occidental."

"This represents a watershed moment for Occidental," said President Jonathan Veitch. "Dennis’ longstanding leadership role in the philanthropic world together with his unmatched knowledge of Occidental are tremendous assets for the college. I’m grateful that he was willing to be persuaded to take on this important job as we prepare for the largest capital campaign in Occidental’s 122-year history."

John Farmer, senior director of Goldman Sachs and vice chair of the board of trustees, has assumed the post of board chair. Farmer, an Occidental trustee since 1995, was chair of the board of the American School in London for 11 years and served as a trustee of Washington and Lee University from 1996-2006. His wife Tawna and daughter Heddy are both Occidental graduates.

Collins served as president, CEO and higher education program officer of the James Irvine Foundation from 1986-2002. As one of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations, the organization’s assets grew from $350 million to just over $1.4 billion during Collins’ tenure, enabling its annual grants to California non-profits to increase four-fold.

Prior to his career in philanthropy, Collins served as founding headmaster of San Francisco University High School from 1974-1986 and as principal of Emma Willard School, the country’s oldest independent school for girls, for four years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in education at Stanford University.

He began his professional career at Occidental in 1963, where he served as admission director and dean of students. He has served on the Occidental Board of Trustees since 2000. His connections to the college extend beyond the professional: He met his wife Mollie at Occidental, was married in the college chapel, and is the parent of a 1994 Occidental graduate.

Collins also has served as a trustee of the College Board and the Higher Education Policy Institute, and as a member of the Stanford University Humanities and Sciences Council. He is the former chair of the Southern California Association for Philanthropy.