Students recall Collins as engaging, teamwork-focused educatorWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins assigned a lot of group work when he taught at the University of Toledo, former student Amy Tracy recalls.
Although group work doesn’t tend to be particularly popular among college students, Tracy, now a director in corrections, said it helped prepare her for her future career in criminal justice.
“Everybody kind of hated it,” she said. “But I give him a lot of credit for preparing me for a job like this because I deal with several different courts, several different agencies. … When you think about it, it’s teamwork.”
Tracy said the things Collins taught have stayed with her long past the classroom. One thing he stressed was that those in the criminal justice system are people too, she said.
“How I treat people as a whole has a lot to do with him,” she said. “[The group projects] alone helped me to prepare to deal with people. He prepared me for crisis situations and how to keep my head clear.”
Robert Fitzgerald, another former UT student, agreed that Collins prepared students for their future careers, not just the final exam.
“He was very engaging and kept your interest,” said Fitzgerald, who works as a security guard at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. “He wanted me to further my career in law enforcement and tried to guide me through certain aspects. … He wanted to make sure [students] stayed interested no matter what their major was.”
Collins would often share real-life stories, former student Heather Heiland recalled. “It made me relate more to what he was teaching,” she said.
Collins also used humor in the classroom. “He always had jokes; he always made me laugh,” she said.
Heiland had Collins for a juvenile justice class, which she went on to pursue as a career. She said he was easy to relate to and talk to and was one of her favorite teachers ever. “He took the time to talk to you,” she said.
Collins was a visiting assistant professor at UT from 1999 to 2011. He also worked as an adjunct instructor at Lourdes University from 2010-12.
“I really liked him,” said Dale Lanigan, chair of Lourdes’ Department of Sociology and Justice Studies. “He was always very straightforward, honest and loved to talk public policy. He didn’t just express his views. He always wanted to explain why he thought as he did, bringing up history and data to support his positions.”
Collins also taught at St. Francis de Sales High School from 1976-83 and 1984-86.
Tracy hopes people remember him for his passion for people.
“A big part of my success in the criminal justice system is because of him,” she said. “I will be forever thankful to him for that.”