Professor Profile

Dr. David Collins

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Professor Profile

Dr. David Collins

The chemistry and physics professor shares his journey to Steubenville.

Autumn 2021 | Emily Stimpson Chapman

In This Article

In 2012, Franciscan University offered Dr. David Collins a position on the science faculty. But he hesitated to accept.

The job was perfect. He didn’t doubt that. He loved Franciscan’s focus on undergraduate teaching. He loved the school’s size. He loved the idea of returning to Ohio, where he’d spent most of his childhood and young adult years. But, in his mind, there was one problem. He wasn’t Catholic.

Raised Presbyterian, Collins had fallen away from organized religion while studying engineering at Ohio State. He then stayed away during the years he taught high school in Texas, during his time in graduate school at Miami University of Ohio, and as a new husband and professor in New York.

In 2011, however, his wife, who had been raised nominally Catholic, expressed a desire to go to church as a family. Collins agreed.

“At first, it was a ‘make your wife happy’ move,” he says. “There was no good reason to say no.”

Almost immediately, Collins’ interest was piqued. He then decided to learn more by going to RCIA.

Not long after, he learned about the opening at Franciscan. He applied and was invited to campus.

“I interviewed on a Friday in Lent,” he says. “We went out to lunch, and without thinking, I ordered the beef. Everyone around me got the shrimp stir fry. As soon as I realized what I’d done, I thought I’d kissed the job goodbye. I’d failed the lunch test.”

But he hadn’t failed. The University offered him the position. That’s when Collins hesitated.

“I told them I wasn’t sure I was ready for something quite so intensely Catholic,” he explains. “But they wouldn’t take no for an answer. They offered me the chance to go back to New York, teach there for the year, sell my house, and then accept the position. So, I agreed.”

“My concern was that they didn’t see the true me, that they saw someone who was more open to Catholicism than I actually was,” Collins continues. “But it was the exact opposite. They saw where I really was, even though I didn’t recognize it myself.”

A year later, Collins and his family moved to Steubenville. A year later, “insanely happy with the community and the job,” he began RCIA again. And in 2016, at the Easter Vigil Mass, Collins entered the Catholic Church.

“Looking back, I was clearly not in charge,” Collins concludes. “If you’d asked me in 2011, ‘Do you want to teach at the most Catholic school in the country?’ the answer would have been a strong no. But the Lord snuck up on me, threw a bag over my head, and brought me to Franciscan. And I am so grateful for that.”

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