Jim and Carol Collins have received the UCLA Medal, UCLA’s highest honor, for their remarkable contributions to the restaurant industry and more than six decades of philanthropy and leadership that has benefited myriad organizations, including UCLA. 

The couple were honored at a dinner held May 6 at the UCLA Chancellor’s Residence.

“Tonight, as we celebrate Carol and Jim’s profound influence on our university … we again extend our deepest gratitude for their generous support and commitment to UCLA over the decades,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The Collinses’ unwavering commitment to UCLA was further reinforced at the ceremony with the formal announcement that two endowed chairs that had been funded by the couple had been filled by faculty members at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael, a neurologist and neuroscientist at the Geffen School and professor and vice chair for research and programs in the department of neurology, now holds the Carol and James Collins Chair. And Dr. Brandon Koretz, interim CEO of the UCLA Faculty Practice Group and former chief of geriatric medicine at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, now holds the Carol and James Collins Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine.

“These are important areas of medicine and we can be certain that the Collinses’ endowment of these chairs will produce medical advances that will help many in the future,” Block said.

The Collinses’ connection to UCLA runs deep. As a child, Carol attended UCLA football games with her father and was a student at the on-campus elementary school now known as the UCLA Lab School. She and Jim met as UCLA undergraduates. Three of their four children went on to attend UCLA.

Shortly after graduating from UCLA in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Jim entered the restaurant business. He retired as CEO of Sizzler International in 1999 and from its board of directors in 2004.

The Collinses have been active volunteers and donors to UCLA since they made their first gift to the campus in 1963. They have generously supported a variety of programs, spanning education, medicine, business, the humanities and athletics. The couple are honorary fellows of the UCLA College as well as life members of the UCLA Alumni Association and UCLA Fund. Jim was named UCLA’s Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year in 1982.

From 1982 to 1988, Jim chaired The UCLA Campaign; he is now a member of the executive committee for the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in 2019. He also served as president of the Alumni Association board of directors, and has held several other leadership positions for the association.

The UCLA Medal was established in 1979 and is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by UCLA. It is awarded to those who have not only earned academic and professional acclaim, but whose works demonstrates the highest ideals of UCLA. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former senator George Mitchell, Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, UCLA alumna and former astronaut Anna L. Fisher and basketball coaching legend John Wooden have been among the recipients.