Fresh out of college, Beryl R. Collins ’40 ventured into a field where few women had ever gone—computers. At a time when a single computer took up an entire room, Collins went to work for IBM.
She progressed through their newly designed management-training program for women, which graduated women to assist customers in computer installation. But soon Collins became IBM’s secretary of education. In this position, she designed educational programs for staff and customers.
After a quick stint working at Sperry Gyroscope, Collins landed a position with publisher McGraw-Hill as its first systems consultant. Eventually she became the first female officer for the company when she was promoted to senior vice president for corporate management information services.
She also wrote two books on business data processing. Recognizing her significance, Business Week named Collins as one of their “Top Corporate Women” in a 1976 issue.
Collins’s pioneering passion for learning didn’t end with computers; she was also ahead of her time in environmental awareness. In 1979, Collins retired early and went back to school, this time with a plan to save the environment. Earning a master’s degree in biological sciences from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University, Collins was ready to start her environmental research.
Soon she shifted focus toward public policy and authored two books about New Jersey’s environment, one concerning landscape diversity and the other focusing on the New Jersey Pinelands.