2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, the Bowie State University student killed on the University of Maryland’s campus in May, will receive an honorary diploma from this university at Tuesday’s winter commencement ceremony.
Collins’ parents — Richard W. Collins, Jr., and Dawn Collins — will receive the honorary bachelor’s degree in Humane Letters on his behalf. Richard Collins III was awarded his business administration bachelor’s degree posthumously from Bowie State in May.
University President Wallace Loh called it “a fitting memorial to a young man whose life and death have touched our community so deeply” in an email to the campus community Tuesday.
“Together, we will preserve Lt. Collins’ name in our collective memory,” Loh wrote. “We will wrest meaning from this tragedy.”
Maryland’s U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7th) will also receive an honorary degree at the ceremony — a doctorate of public service — and deliver the commencement address.
Collins was two days removed from being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and three days away from his Bowie State graduation when he was fatally stabbed while waiting for an Uber near the Montgomery Hall bus stop in the early hours of May 20.
Sean Urbanski, a white former student at this university, has been charged with murder and a hate crime in the killing of Collins, who was black. Urbanski is set to stand trial in July and faces life in prison without parole.
Since then, this university has begun a task force to investigate diversity and hate bias issues on the campus and updated its protocol for dealing with hate bias incidents. A university spokeswoman said Dec. 8 that 27 such incidents had been reported on the campus since the start of the fall semester.
Loh wrote in the message that awarding the degree is a reminder for this university and Bowie State to remain steadfast in confronting those issues.
“In this spirit, we are also resolved to counteract the tide of violence and hate that would cleave our campuses and our nation in these fraught times,” he wrote. “Our common efforts can help unify and strengthen our respective campuses.”