In Memoriam: Claire Hill Collins, 1975-2019

Claire Collins, former assistant to the chancellor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, passed away on April 27, 2019. She was 44 years old.

Collins began her career at the university in 2010 as an administrative assistant in the Public Policy Institute. In 2013, she became executive assistant to the dean of the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts. In 2016, she was named assistant to then-chancellor David O. Belcher, and served under interim chancellor Alison Morrison-Shetlar after Belcher passed away in 2018.

Before coming to the university, Collins served as interim director of the Downtown Sylva Association for one year. She was president of the Jackson County Arts Council at the time of her death and was a former board member of the Appalachian Women’s Museum in Dillsboro.

“It’s been a true joy in my life to have called Claire Collins a colleague and friend,” said Melissa Wargo, chief of staff. “She was the epitome of grace and class. Claire brought a genuine warmth and authenticity to all aspects of her life, and I so admired and appreciated that about her, as did everyone she encountered. She was funny, brave, humble and loyal. While her absence leaves a gigantic hole, my life was enriched by having known her, and I am a better person because of her friendship.”

Family, friends, and colleagues of Collins are creating a scholarship in her name to honor her love of the arts and the university. The Claire Hill Collins Endowed Scholarship will provide support to students who are majoring in the fine and performing arts, with preference given to students majoring in programs in the School of Stage and Screen.

Collins was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she majored in communication studies.

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