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BW remembers former president known for compassion and warmth

Collier claps at BW commencementThe Baldwin Wallace University community lost a beloved former leader with a big heart this week with the passing of BW's seventh president, The Rev. Dr. Mark H. Collier.

When BW President Bob Helmer shared the news of Collier's passing on Monday, February 8, he noted that Collier, who served as president of BW from 1999-2006, "was known for his warm and caring personality. Over his many years at BW as chaplain, professor, vice president for academic affairs and president, Mark touched the lives of faculty, staff and students alike."

From Chaplain to President

Collier worked his way up to president after 25 years at BW, starting with an appointment as college chaplain and assistant professor of religion by then-president A.B. Bonds in 1974.

Trustee Mark Summers '75 remembered Collier in this role. "He was such a wonderful man," Summers recalled. "He was our chaplain when I was in school and conducted all our pregame chapel services. I remember it like it was yesterday."

Then-deans Mark Collier (left) and Frances Lucas (right) serving students at the third annual Midnight Breakfast in 1990. Collier was vice president for academic affairs and dean when BW Trustee Ryan Cross '97 was a student at BW. "He was a mentor and friend to me and generations of BW students. Mark devoted himself to BW."

"When I think of Mark," Cross continued, "the famous inspiring quote attributed to the father of Methodism, John Wesley, always comes to mind: 'Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.' Mark did all the good he could do. God bless him and his family."

Collier was appointed president of Baldwin-Wallace College in 1999, following BW President Neal Malicky's retirement. After 32 years of service to BW, Collier retired in 2006.

Student-Centered Work

Collier was one of just nine presidents to serve BW since the merger of Baldwin University and German Wallace College in 1913. He is pictured here (far left) at the 2012 inauguration of President Bob During his presidency, Collier oversaw the renovation of the BW recreation center, residence halls and a campus master plan that led to many major renovations on campus, such as the Malicky Center project that combined the old Baldwin Library and Carnegie Hall with an addition of new classrooms and offices.

Collier put students at the center of his work at BW. One profile noted his commitment to the meaningful involvement of students in shaping BW.

"Throughout his 32 years at BW, his door was always open for students and they were directly involved in major campus discussions and planning. His habit of joining them -- unannounced -- in the campus dining halls for conversation and feedback sometimes spawned quizzical looks, but always nurtured communication...and admiration."

Following his retirement, Enduring Questions: The Mark Collier Lecture Series was established in his honor. The series features renowned speakers and experts from a range of academic disciplines in public lectures, small group discussions and/or classroom visits. The next lecture in the series will feature Kevin Richardson, a Central Park Five exoneree, on March 3.

Ivy League Educated

A Distinguished Alumnus of Rocky River High School, Collier graduated with honors from DePauw University in 1964 and earned his Master of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1968, where he was awarded the Thew Prize for originality in expository preaching. He earned a Ph.D. in higher education from Kent State in 1979.

Prior to joining BW, Collier served as minister of the North Olmsted United Methodist Church (UMC) for six years and as the UMC Cleveland District youth director for two years. He held a number of leadership posts in the UMC's East Ohio Conference, as well.

Active in the broader community, Collier served on the Boards of United Way, the Greater Cleveland Roundtable, Southwest General, Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church.

Family and Services

Mark Collier fishingIn a 2006 BW commencement address, Collier urged graduates to value the "gentle experiences" in life rather than be caught up in prideful competition.

"I am sure that when my life is ending, I shall not look back and wish I'd owned a bigger home or held a job with a more prestigious title or earned another thousand dollars.

No, I will be wishing I could hold my children one more time, or stand once more to watch an autumn mist rise slowly in the woods or walk by the river singing, or love again my beloved."

Collier's wife, the former Martha Craig, preceded him in death in 2021. He is survived by three children: Matthew, Trent and Courtney Abboud. They say Collier died surrounded by family.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, February 11, at 2 p.m. at the Rocky River United Methodist Church.


Memorial Donations

The family has requested that memorial donations go to the Enduring Questions: Mark Collier Lectures Series.

To give online:

Go to: https://www.bw.edu/giving/

  • Click on the orange "Give Today" button

  • After selecting the amount, pull down the Designation menu and select "Other"

  • In the Other pops-up box, enter "Collier Lecture Series"

  • Complete the rest of the form as needed.

To give by mail:

Please note "Collier Lecture Series" in the Memo line and send checks payable to Baldwin Wallace University to the following address:

Center for Philanthropy
Baldwin Wallace University
275 Eastland Road
Berea, OH 44017-2088

To give by phone:

Call (440) 826-2748 to have a specialist process a gift by credit card.

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