Creating a Space for Peace and Renewal
Dr. H. Ed Collier III
“She would say that you always have to give away at least one or two more than you receive, as things should flow away from you. I think she meant not only cookies, but just service that you do for people—the way you approach life.”
So much about Dr. Herman E. Collier Jr. P’86 and Mrs. Jerline W. Collier P’86 has to do with chemistry. As a couple, Herm and Jerri had an immediate and lasting chemistry that endured for 72 years. Herm studied chemistry as an undergraduate student at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. His advanced studies in chemistry brought them north to Bethlehem so he could pursue his master’s and doctorate from Lehigh University. Herm later served as a research chemist for DuPont until he eventually became the first lay president of Moravian College in 1969.
Today, the study of chemistry at Moravian takes place in the Collier Hall of Science, which will be visible from the new Jerline Weston Collier Wellness Terrace, a new space designated as part of the Haupert Union Building (HUB) expansion project and a fitting tribute to them both. “My dad was fortunate to be recognized with his name on the science building, but it was always my mom and dad working together to create the family ‘feel’ on campus,” says Ed Collier, the eldest of Herm and Jerri’s three sons and daughter.
Ed, his brother Tom (Moravian College Class of ’86), and their wives and children (their brother Michael and sister Kathryn are deceased) wanted to honor Jerri in a way that was more personal to who she was and how she was known. The three boys grew up in Historic Bethlehem in the shadow of Central Moravian Church. For several years they had the monopoly on the paper route of Church Street, jokes Ed, who has fond memories of that time.
“Mom was a big baker and would do teas for the women in the Sisters’ and Widows’ Houses. People would sometimes drop off sweets for her to share. I always noticed that when she returned the containers, there were more cookies going out than coming in,” remembers Ed. “She would say that you always have to give away at least one or two more than you receive, as things should flow away from you. I think she meant not only cookies but just service that you do for people—the way you approach life.”
Through the Lighting the Way campaign, Moravian aims to invest in spaces that adapt to the changing needs of its students. This ambitious fundraising priority gave the Collier family the perfect way to honor Jerri. To her, wellness was more about taking care of others than herself. While many mothers and wives are selfless and devote their time to those around them, benevolence was Jerri’s mission. “People sought counsel with her. I remember coming home from high school, and there would be one or two women from next door at South Hall sitting and talking. Later, I would ask who they were, and she would just say ‘new friends,’” recalls Ed. “I think she had to help some people.”
Through the Jerline Weston Collier Wellness Terrace, the Colliers want to create a space where students can take time to center themselves—to “look beyond the noise and find the quiet miracle,” as Jerri would say. According to a BestColleges survey of 1,000 undergraduate students in the United States in 2022, more than three out of every four college students (77 percent) experienced moderate to serious psychological distress, 35 percent were diagnosed with anxiety, and 27 percent had depression. Almost 9 in 10 students (89 percent) who face academic challenges say it affects their mental health. This is in addition to all they are already experiencing, including social stressors, being expected to plan financially, and in some cases living away from home for the first time.
Plans for the Wellness Terrace include biophilic design practices like access to fresh air, nature, and light to reduce stress and improve cognitive function, creativity, and well-being. Students will be able to use the space to recharge in the safe company of friends or in solitude. “College life can be quite stressful. Looking at communities and schools today facing safety issues, we hope that the HUB will create an environment where people know they matter—where there is a family,” states Ed. “Mom knew mindfulness before we knew what that was. She would say, ‘find gratitude for the day you’re in.’”
It is that sort of positive attitude and thinking that Ed and Tom want students to find in this space. Just as they were taught at home, Ed and Tom want students to know that there is never a problem that cannot be heard or worked out. Even on the toughest days, the Wellness Terrace will be a place where students can go for peace and renewal. “Not everyone had the nurturing that I had when I was younger. If we had an exam or were stressed and we were bringing lunch to school, somewhere would be a note hidden by Mom that said, ‘Hang in there,’” recalls Ed. “We’d like the Terrace to sort of act like when you drop a pebble in the pond—there will be a ripple effect of one student looking out for many. One phrase I always remember hearing Mom say is, ‘Take care of each other.’”