• Who was Ruth Collins — namesake of Baylor’s Collins Hall?

    Black and white portrait of Ruth Woodall Collins

    A newly renovated Collins Hall will welcome Baylor’s Class of 2027 this fall — but where did the residence hall get its name?

    Collins is one of at least a dozen Baylor buildings named for women — specifically, it was named in honor of Ruth Woodall Collins, whose family’s generosity to Baylor is still felt by students today.

    The future residence hall namesake was born Elza Ruth Woodall in 1891 in Harrison County, Texas, near the Louisiana border. While attending what is today Texas State University in San Marcos, she met her future husband, Carr P. Collins. After college graduation, Collins taught school for three years. The couple married in 1914 and moved to Dallas.

    Carr P. Collins, the co-founder and president of Fidelity Union Life Insurance, was a longtime Baylor benefactor and Trustee (1924-33, 1935-42, and 1958-61). The Collinses gave generously to Baylor over the years, including gifts that made Roxy Grove Hall and Waco Hall East possible, an endowed chair in finance, and the Carr P. Collins Scholars Program.

    In the fall of 1955, the need for a new women’s residence hall was clear to university leadership, and plans were made to fill that need. At six stories tall, a block long, and occupying 132,000 square feet, the new facility stood as one of the largest structures in Waco when it was completed in 1957. In recognition of the Collins family’s generosity, the $1.8 million dormitory was named in honor of Ruth.

    Beyond Baylor, Ruth Collins was actively involved in the Dallas community, serving on boards for the Dallas YMCA and the Texas Baptist Children’s Home. The Collinses were also very active in civic activities and their church.

    The couple had three children, who continued their legacy of impact and generosity. Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler was a renowned civic and philanthropic leader; James M. Collins was a businessman and U.S. Representative; and Carr P. Collins Jr. was a businessman and diplomat.

    Ruth Collins passed away in 1979 at the age of 88. Almost 50 years later, the marked influence of Ruth and her family can still be seen across campus. As a new set of freshmen move into a refurbished Collins Hall this fall, may the legacy of Ruth continue to inspire all who call it home.

    Sic ’em, Ruth Collins!

    Other residence hall name histories:
    * Allen (Gladys Allen)
    * Brooks (Samuel Palmer Brooks)

    * Dawson (Willie Turner Dawson)
    * Earle (Dr. Hallie Earle)
    * Kokernot (H.L. Kokernot)
    * Martin (D.K. “Dock” Martin)
    * Penland (George Harvey Penland)
    * Russell (Willard & Stella Russell)
    * Teal (Gordon Teal)