In 2020, the CAFE Outstanding Staff Award was renamed the Dr. Lisa P. Collins Outstanding Staff Award in honor of Dr. Collins, who retired from CAFE in 2018 and continues to serve as a vital member of the college staff in post-retirement. Dr. Collins has been instrumental in the continuing formation of the award and administered the nomination and award selection process for many years. Beyond her role in championing the award, Dr. Collins herself embodies what it means to be an outstanding staff member of the University of Kentucky and the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.

Dr. Lisa Collins began her service at the University of Kentucky in 1982 as an editorial assistant in the UK Registrar’s Office. She progressed from there to become the Director of Registration, then Assistant Registrar in the Registrar’s Office. In 1996, she moved to the Graduate School as Director of the Fellowship Office and then Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. Since moving to the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment in 2003, Dr. Collins has been the Experiment Station Assistant Director, the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration for CAFE, and ended her career as an associate dean. Such a steady and progressive rise from humble beginnings shows not only that Dr. Collins truly values the University of Kentucky, but also that the University of Kentucky truly values her.

In each of her many roles over the years, Dr. Collins has moved the university forward in terms of efficiency, transparency, and service to our stakeholders. Just a handful of the systems she has implemented and made improvements to include online class registration (1990); UK-VIP telephone class registration (1992); the Graduate School database (2003); Graduate student health insurance program (2002); the annual Experiment Station Report for several years; the CAFE Dean’s Office and Research Office webpages); the College of Agriculture Rules of Procedure (2010 and 2015); Digital Measures implementation in CAFE (2017). These systems, among the many other projects Dr. Collins has worked on, have all radically changed the way our students, faculty, staff, and community interface with the University.

As Dr. Collins has mapped new territory, advancing the college and university into the 21st century, she has always kept an eye on the importance of preserving the history of our institution. A challenge which may not seem so daunting, until you face it yourself, is what to do with 150 years of documentation about our faculty and programs. First at the Graduate School, then in the CAFE Research office, and now at the CAFE Dean’s Office and School of Human Environmental Sciences, Dr. Collins has designed and led multiple digitization and archiving projects. Without the work that she did in these projects, the history of the university would be lost. Hundreds of thousands of pages of Kentucky history have been added to the University and CAFE archives as a result of Dr. Collins’ foresight.

In so many ways, Dr. Collins is a trailblazer, but most importantly, she brings everyone along with her. Perhaps the greatest testament to the challenges she has overcome is that she has left every office and committee she has touched at UK better than it was before. The policies and procedures she developed from scratch are still in use in the Registrar’s Office, Graduate School, CAFE Research Office, and CAFE Dean’s Office. More importantly, though, the people she has trained and mentored have gone on to further the professionalization of these offices, and to become leaders themselves. She has truly shaped the next generation of outstanding staff members for our college.