BAR HARBOR — For the first time in its history, a graduate of College of the Atlantic has been named the college’s president.
Darron Collins, 41, of suburban Atlanta, also is the first president of COA to be born after the college was founded in 1969. Collins, who has a Ph.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans, is coming to COA from the World Wildlife Fund, where he currently serves as the organization’s director of creative assets.
“COA is a globally outstanding beehive of creative energy and I can’t wait to be part of that once again,” Collins said in a prepared statement released Tuesday by COA. “It’s hard to put into words just how excited I am — the hair has been standing up on the back of my neck thinking about COA going forward.”
Collins replaces David Hales, who went on extended leave at the end of 2010 and stepped down at the end of the academic year. Since Hales went on leave, the college’s administrative dean, Andy Griffiths, has been serving as interim president until a permanent replacement was found.
Bill Foulke, chairman of COA’s board of trustees, said in the prepared statement that the environmentally focused college was excited to have Collins returning to COA as its sixth president.
“We are thrilled that Darron has chosen to return to his roots to lead us into our fifth decade,” Foulke said.
Collins was chosen at the end of what COA officials describe as an extensive national search. He has served as a World Wildlife Fund managing director in the Amur River region of northeast Asia and as a senior advisor to the environmental organization’s CEO, and has helped lead the group’s outreach efforts. While at WWF, Collins helped raise more than $10 million in grants and donations, according to COA.
Collins earned his Ph.D. studying ethnobotany in Guatemala, has researched the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and has worked on leopard conservation on the Russia-North Korean border. He also has taught at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
As a COA student, Collins received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and a Watson Foundation Fellowship. As a Watson fellow, Collins studied the environmental and social impacts of hydroelectric dams in Latin America.
Collins is an avid fly-fisherman, mountain biker, and trail marathon runner, according to the college. A native of Morris Plains, N.J., he is expected to move to the area next month with his wife Karen and their two daughters. A formal inauguration ceremony for Collins will be held during the coming fall term.