Tennessee State University National Alumni Association Chattanooga Chapter President Malcolm J. Walker and members recently announced meeting requirements for establishing an endowed scholarship in the TSU Foundation in honor of Judge Curtis L. Collier. An endowed scholarship requires a minimum of $25,000 for initiating. Another requirement by the Foundation is that the money must be raised within a three year period. Spearheaded by Dr. Joyce Hardaway, the response by the Chattanooga Alumni and friends was so overwhelming that a total of $32,865.00 has been raised in just three months. Now fully funded, the gift is expected to provide scholarships of $1,000 on an annual basis in perpetuity.
Judge Curtis Collier, TSUNAA Chattanooga Chapter Treasurer and proposer of the idea for an endowed scholarship has a long history of service to the community and his country. Born in Marianna, Arkansas, Judge Collier received a Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee State University in 1971 and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law in 1974. After law school he served in the United States Air Force from 1974 to 1979. He then served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1979 to 1987 and held the same office in the Eastern District of Tennessee from 1987 to 1995.
In 1995, Judge Collier’s career took a turn as he was nominated by President Bill Clinton as a U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of Tennessee. He was confirmed by the Senate on May 8, 1995, and received his commission on May 10, 1995, making him the first African-American to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of Tennessee and the second African-American federal judge to serve in the state of Tennessee. On October 7, 2005, Judge Collier became Chief Judge of the District Court and completed his seven-year term in 2012. He assumed senior status on October 31, 2014.
Judge Collier has received numerous awards for leadership, community involvement, and legal accomplishments, including the 2021 Chattanooga Bar Association Jac Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2015 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award, the “Omega Century Award of Excellence” from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP Chattanooga Chapter Thurgood Marshall Award, the Whitney M. Young Award, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, induction into the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. African American Achievers Hall of Fame, inductee into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, the National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) Distinguished Alumni Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha South Eastern Conference Hall of Fame, and the Charles S. Murphy Public Service Award from Duke University Law School. Under the leadership of President Malcom Walker, the Endowed Scholarship Committee is co-chaired by Mrs. Christine Hicks and Mr. Roland McIntyre. Other Committee members are Mrs. Johnnie Bone, Dr. Latrice Bragg, Judge Curtis Collier, Mrs. Bonnie Cooper, Mrs. Lacie Cousin, Dr. Joyce Hardaway, and Dr. Edna Varner.