The California State University Board of Trustees and Chancellor Charles Reed honored Carol and Jim Collins on Jan. 27 for their recent $5.25 million pledge and their many years supporting The Collins College of Hospitality Management.
Reed and President Michael Ortiz each expressed their gratitude, and the trustees unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation to Carol and Jim Collins. This prompted the crowd of at least 75 people at the trustees’ meeting in Long Beach to give the couple a standing ovation.
“Jim and Carol, it is a great honor to have you as our partners in the development of workforce-ready graduates for the hospitality industry,” Reed said. “Many of you may know that Jim started with a little hamburger stand and built an international hospitality conglomerate. He has helped The Collins College have the same trajectory of success and it has become one of the top programs in the country. We are indebted to you for the vision and support that made that possible.”
Carol and Jim Collins are the largest private individual donors in the history of Cal Poly Pomona. In December, they pledged to match dollar-for-dollar $5 million in donations for a new $10 million academic building.
“These are two people who are just as passionate about education as anyone in this room,” Ortiz said. “Carol and Jim’s friendship with Cal Poly Pomona started as the university began an emphasis in hotel, restaurant and travel in our College of Business Administration. They believed, and still do today, in the importance of preparing future generations of hospitality industry professionals.”
For more than 20 years, Carol and Jim Collins’ contributions have been used primarily to help build state-of-the-art facilities for the hospitality management college. These facilities have given the college the ability to flourish and become one of the nation’s leading hospitality management programs, according to Collins College Dean Andy Feinstein.
The new academic building will employ green building design and lay the foundation for expanded programs at The Collins College, which has seen a 46 percent growth in enrollment in three years. Future graduates are well positioned to fill the hospitality industry’s call for more skilled professionals. The Collins College is also developing the state’s first graduate program in hospitality management, reinforcing its forward-thinking reputation in the industry.
As a way of implementing Cal Poly Pomona’s polytechnic approach, graduate students under the direction of Architecture Professor Kip Dickson are participating in the design of the 20,000-square-foot building.
Jim Collins began his restaurant career in 1952 when he opened a self-service hamburger stand in Culver City. In 1967 he purchased the Sizzler Family Steak House chain from the founder and formed Collins Foods International a year later. Collins Foods restructured in 1991 as Sizzler International. In 2001, the name was changed to Worldwide Restaurant Concepts, Inc. and currently includes 318 Sizzler restaurants worldwide, 20 Pat & Oscar’s restaurants, and 111 KFC restaurants in Queensland, Australia.