Congratulations poured in from across Clemson University as the President’s Commission on Women honored Kelly Collins with an Outstanding Women Award in the staff category.

Collins is chief of staff and operations in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. She is the highest-ranking non-faculty staff member in the university’s largest college, an enterprise of more than 430 full-time employees and a $76-million budget.

Kelly Collins, who is seated second from left, was among this year's winners of an Outstanding Women Award.

Kelly Collins, who is seated second from left, was among this year’s winners of an Outstanding Women Award.

The award “annually honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improve the status of women,” according to the commission’s website. She received her award at a March 28 luncheon.

“A distinguished group of people have won this award in the past, and it’s an honor to be named among them,” Collins said. “I’d like to thank all who nominated me and all those who have supported me through the years.”

Collins’ supporters include several colleagues and employees who report to her. They said she has demonstrated impeccable leadership, set an example for others to follow, and that she has a keen eye for spotting talented, young women and then nurturing their careers, ensuring they stick with Clemson.

Collins graduated from Clemson with a Bachelor of Science in financial management in 2003 and immediately came to work for her alma mater as business manager in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

She joined what was then the College of Engineering and Science in January 2007 as an accountant/fiscal analyst II. She was promoted in 2009 to assistant business officer and, after continuing her education at Clemson, received her master’s degree in human resource development in 2011.

Collins was promoted in 2015 to chief business officer. In that role, she had direct responsibility for budgeting, managing, reporting and balancing the university’s target allocation of $51.8 million in state appropriations, $15.4 million in annual self-generated revenues and $8.6 million in annual gifts and endowed funds.

Supporters said her leadership ensured the funds had maximum impact, while demonstrating good stewardship and financial responsibility.

With her help, the college and departments were able to find innovative ways of generating revenue to bridge gaps left by state funding shortfalls. Collins also worked with teams that included the dean and department chairs to prepare budgets and directed complex human-resources initiatives at the college and departmental levels.

Collins was promoted in July 2017 to the college’s chief of staff and operations. She reorganized the college’s business office to strategically place human capital where it is needed most. She works with young, fast-rising women to come up with career plans, helping them advance and retaining them at Clemson.

Her retention efforts also extend to working mothers.  Collins, a mother herself, works with employees to ensure they can balance parenting and family responsibilities with job duties.

Further, she is facilitating a data-driven, decision-making environment that is enabling the college to make efficient use of its financial resources, facilities and personnel. Supporters said Collins has created a collaborative work environment that encourages diverse ideas and innovative methods for improvement.

Anand Gramopadhye, the college’s dean, congratulated Collins on her award.

“This is a well-deserved honor,” he said. “As a leader in the university’s largest college, Kelly sets an example for other women and ensures that doors that were shut to her are open for other women. We hope they will pay the favor forward. That will be her biggest contribution to Clemson.”