The parents of a college student who was killed on the University of Maryland campus accepted an honorary degree on his behalf this week at the school's winter commencement.
On Tuesday, Richard and Dawn Collins received a posthumous bachelor of humane letters degree for their son, Richard Collins III, a Bowie State University student who was fatally stabbed in an incident that resulted in a hate-crime charge.
"This is a fitting memorial to a young man whose life and death have touched our community so deeply," U-Md. president Wallace Loh said.
Collins — a 23-year-old, newly commissioned second lieutenant in the U.S. Army — was slain in May, shortly before his own graduation ceremony at Bowie State. He was stabbed at a College Park bus stop, an attack authorities have called "totally unprovoked."
Charged with murder in the stabbing death is Sean Urbanski, who was a U-Md. student at the time. A grand jury handed up a hate-crime charge in the case in October. Urbanski is white; Collins was black.
Collins and two friends were at the bus stop on May 20 when Urbanski allegedly approached them about 3 a.m., police said. Urbanski allegedly told Collins, "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," according to police charging papers. Collins refused to move, police said. That's when Urbanski pulled out a knife and stabbed Collins, police said.
"Lt. Collins was just days away from graduation at Bowie State University, our neighboring and sister institution in the University System of Maryland," Loh said.
"Both of our campuses mourn the loss of a promising life that ended far too early."
Collins, Loh said, was known to be devoted to his family, his faith and his country.
"The pain of this loss does not abate," he said.
Bowie State's president, Aminta Breaux, and its former president, Mickey Burnim, attended the ceremony.
Breaux told the crowd that those who knew Collins remember him as an "exceptional young man." His professor of military science described Collins as quiet but outgoing, she said — a person of good, strong character.
"To the Collins family, thank you for sharing your remarkable son with us," Breaux said. "He has left an indelible mark at Bowie State University and with those he met along life's journey."