Legacy Gift Will Foster Sense of Belonging and Community at SOU

Legacy Gift Will Foster Sense of Belonging and Community at SOU

Sue and Mike Collins are driven by a commitment to community, education, and philanthropy. Their journey is a blend of shared experiences, professional accomplishment, and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the world around them. The Collins’ have strong ties to Southern Oregon University, and their story reflects a devotion to fostering a sense of belonging and community.  

The Collins’ connection begins with Sue’s parents, Robert and Betty Root, whose family has a long and storied agricultural history in the Rogue Valley and who generously supported university scholarships throughout their lives. Sue attended summer school at SOU and recalls the history professor who taught history through storytelling. Mike attended SOU after serving in Vietnam, and it was at SOU that he solidified the most important relationships of his life. The university also provided him a place to discover his future passion.  

Sue and Mike, both graduates of Oregon State University, traveled widely and lived in several states—the result of Sue’s executive-level career with companies such as Apple and Compaq (now HP). By being on the leading edge of integrating technology into the classrooms, Sue’s expertise continues to be highly sought after, even in retirement. Mike worked in a variety of expert roles at Graybar Electric, a national employee-owned company, and because of this company’s nationwide distribution, he was able to forge a successful career regardless of where he and Sue lived.  

As the Collins’ completed their estate plans, the belief that their accumulated resources should serve a higher purpose bubbled to the surface. Their philanthropic endeavors have always spanned various causes—from supporting public radio to contributing to libraries, shelters, and academic institutions. “Philanthropy is more than just giving back; it’s about creating positive change that extends far beyond our own lives. I give to SOU because I believe supporting students’ access to knowledge, growth, and opportunities is an investment in a better society,” said Sue. 

Giving to SOU is rooted in the Collins’ belief in the transformative power of education and a commitment to strengthening the community. Their contributions are guided by a vision of creating opportunities for students to thrive, especially those who face challenges in pursuing higher education. With this in mind, the Collins’ endowment fund ultimately will support academic programs, athletics, and the faculty. SOU is more than an educational institution for Sue and Mike; it is a community leader. 

“By designating a portion of our assets to SOU, we ensure that our values continue to shape the future. Higher education is a place to build relationships, and you carry those with you through your life. There’s no substitute for that. Our legacy giving is a way to leave the world a better place, and this is an opportunity to do just that,” said Mike. 

Sue and Mike Collins embody the spirit of generosity, community, and education. Their philanthropy at SOU reflects their belief in creating a better future. Together, they are actively shaping the narrative of education and community at SOU.