James A. Collins
Restaurateur and Philanthropist
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
James Collins has had a distinguished, multi-faceted career. As chairman of Sizzler International, Incorporated, he has established himself as a successful entrepreneur, as well as a sterling example of a humanitarian and philanthropist who has dedicated himself to helping others.
Beginning his career as an engineer, he decided to expand his horizons and in 1952 opened a drive-in restaurant. In spite of the doubts expressed by friends and competitors, Mr. Collins' venture proved remarkably successful and it soon led to the opening of other similar outlets. In 1960, Collins added Kentucky Fried Chicken to his business activities and two years later he became the exclusive agent for Colonel Sanders in Southern California. In 1967, Collins Foods purchased the Sizzler Family Steakhouses.
Although he describes his venture into food service as having begun by accident, Mr. Collins' work on behalf of various civic projects, particularly educational projects, has not been happenstance. In addition to a busy professional schedule, he devotes numerous hours each week to civic affairs. He has worked with the Los Angeles YMCA since 1959, leading a $1.5 million building campaign, and served as YMCA board chairman. An alumnus of UCLA, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, he served the university's alumni association in a variety of capacities, including national chairman of its $300 million capital fund campaign. In recognition of his work, he was named the recipient of the Service Award and the Professional Achievement Award. He also served as a regent of the University of California.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona has benefited greatly from Mr. Collins' support. He has been a member of the President's Council and chair of the Executive Advisory Council of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. One of his most significant efforts on behalf of the school was helping raise the several million dollars necessary to build the James and Carol Collins Center for Hospitality Management. For his efforts he was honored by the California State University as its Capital Campaign Leader of the Year in 1989.
In recognition of his many notable achievements, his service to the citizens of California and his tireless efforts to support the state's education system, the California State University and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona are proud to confer upon James A. Collins the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.