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Regent University Honors the Life and Legacy of Dr. Gary Collins

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (December 14, 2021) – On Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, Dr. Gary R. Collins passed away. Collins was a founding psychologist in the Christian counseling movement. Over the last few decades, he served as a distinguished faculty member and frequent contributor for degree programs at Regent University.

“Dr. Gary Collins was an innovative trailblazer in Christian counseling and a pervasive mentor for many of us in the field,” said Dr. William L. Hathaway, executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Regent University. “Christian counseling would be in many ways not recognizable in its current form without his influence. We honor and remember his extraordinary life and legacy.”

Collins was a licensed clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University. He earned Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credentials from the International Coach Federation and was author of numerous articles and almost 60 published books.

Hathaway noted that thousands of professionals and Christian leaders around the world have been influenced by Collins’ mentoring legacy. During his tenure at Regent, Collins mentored a Psy.D. student, Ward Davis, who is now a renowned psychologist and faculty member at Wheaton. Davis and Collins were recently collaborating on a new edition of the historically groundbreaking “Christian Counseling” text. Hathaway also recounts Collins making himself available for mentoring meetings when visiting Taylor University. “In those one-on-one meetings, Gary, already a luminary in our field, was generous with his time, supportive, and motivating to students for whom he had no professional obligations. He coached us on how to pursue our careers in psychology as Christians.”

Born in 1934, Collins grew up in Canada and graduated from McMaster University and the University of Toronto before taking a year of study at the University of London. He spent several years in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve before moving to the United States to study clinical psychology at Purdue University. He took his clinical psychology internship at the University of Oregon Medical School Hospitals in Portland and subsequently enrolled at Western Seminary for a year of theological study.

At Western Seminary, he met his wife Julie. They were married in 1964 and moved to Minnesota where Collins taught psychology at Bethel. Their two daughters, Lynn and Jan, were born in Minnesota. After a year on the faculty of Conwell School of Theology in Philadelphia, the Collins family moved to Illinois where Collins taught psychology and counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. For much of that time he was department chairman.

In 1991, Collins assumed responsibility for co-leading the American Association of Christian Counselors. In the seven years that followed, he was AACC Executive Director and later the organization’s first President. During that time AACC grew from about 700 paid members to more than 15,000. In addition to these duties, Collins founded Christian Counseling Today, the official AACC magazine which he edited for several years. Until 2015, he also served as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology and Counseling at Regent University where he consulted with the faculty and taught courses in coaching for masters and doctoral students. Collins recorded numerous presentations for Regent, including the following discussion on the history and future of Christian counseling: https://www.regent.edu/video/home.cfm?address=2000432.

Collins was a committed follower of Jesus. He and his wife regularly participated in the Chapel of Palatine, Illinois not far from their two daughters, their son-in-law, and their grandson Colin.

About Regent University

Founded in 1978, Regent University is America’s premier Christian university with more than 11,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 150 areas of study including business, communication and the arts, counseling, cybersecurity, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, nursing, healthcare, and psychology. Regent University is ranked the #1 Best Accredited Online College in the United States (Study.com, 2020), the #1 Safest College Campus in Virginia (YourLocalSecurity, 2021), and the #1 Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Virginia for nine years in a row (U.S. News & World Report, 2021).