Steven Collins, renowned Buddhist scholar and expert on the Pali language, died unexpectedly at age 66 on February 15 while leading a seminar in New Zealand.
Since 1991, Collins worked at the University of Chicago where he was the Chester D. Tripp Professor in the Humanities and associate faculty member in the Divinity School. Several times throughout his time at the University of Chicago, he chaired the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations.
The current chair, Whitney Cox, was quoted as saying in a press release from the university:
“He was perhaps the single most sheerly intelligent person I’ve ever known, a great citizen of the University, and a wise and compassionate teacher and friend.”
Cox described Collins as a “doting husband, father, and grandfather.” Other colleagues said Collins was a compassionate teacher and friend who will be missed by everyone inspired by his “exemplary intellectual engagement”
Collins was educated at Oxford University, Christ Church, Wolfson College, and Exeter College. Before joining the University of Chicago, he taught at Bristol University, Indiana University, and Concordia University.
He was the author of several books on Buddhist studies, including Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravada Buddhism and Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative. Most recently, he co-edited Theravada Buddhist Encounters with Modernity, which was reviewed in the Spring 2018 issue of Buddhadharma.