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Robins says CU made 'difference' in students' lives

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By The Staff

Joan C. McKinney

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University has made such a difference in students' lives, and "I'm in awe of where you were and are now," said E. Claiborne Robins Jr., president of The Robins Foundation, as he spoke at an appreciation dinner for the "friends of Campbellsville University" at CU on Jan. 21.

"I am thrilled as to what I am seeing," Robins said, after his visit to CU.

As a major fundraiser who has helped raise more than $600 million for various causes, and who has never had a failed campaign, Robins said fundraising involves putting "your heart into it."

"I can see that on this campus."

The Robins Foundation, along with members of the Robins family, has donated about $900,000 to Campbellsville University, including a gift to help provide the Robins Student Dining Room located in the Winters Dining Hall of the E. Bruce Heilman Student Complex.

Robins, who attended the dinner with his wife, Mary Ellen, and daughter, Hartley, received an honorary doctor of philanthropy before his address to the about 150 people in attendance.

The dinner, in the Robins Student Dining Room, was to show appreciation to the various groups who support CU with their commitment and service.

Robins said his father, who established the Robins Foundation in 1957, led by example. He said his father urged his children to support what organization they believed in and to make their support meaningful.

"You need to ask if the organization you are supporting makes your community better," he said. And Robins said Campbellsville University is one organization that is worth supporting.

Robins was introduced by Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, a member and former chair of the CU Board of Trustees. The two men serve on numerous boards together, and Robins and his family have contributed more than $200 million to the University of Richmond of which Heilman is chancellor and former president.

Robins said vision has got to be important and he was thrilled to see and hear about CU's vision. A new Vision Committee has been created, and the committee is studying what CU will be like in the second century of the university's Christian education.

"What a wonderful university this is," Robins said. "Dr. Heilman has downplayed what is happening at CU, and what wonderful news we will bring to Richmond," he said.

"I see vision here, and what you have done at Campbellsville University is amazing," he said.

"You have shown you care, and that is the only way to be a success," he said. "We all can work together and make the vision happen."

Robins said he is a "master of change," and he used a train as an analogy and said, "Either you get on board or get out of the way. This train (CU) is moving," he said.

Robins said, "Money is the lifeblood of all non-profits," and he urged those at the dinner to not let the momentum die. "You have a fabulous university," he said.

In introducing Robins, Heilman said Robins was named the "Philanthropist of the Year" in 2002 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Central Virginia Chapter.

Robins entered the pharmaceutical business in 1968 with A.H. Robins Co. Inc. In 1978, he was named president and chief executive officer of the company, and became president and chief executive officer of E.C. Robins International Inc. in 1990, a position he holds today.

Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, said presenting an honorary degree is the greatest honor and recognition any college or university can give.

"Campbellsville University is very selective in terms of presenting this recognition," he said, and the honorary degree is given to "those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to humanity and who have distinguished themselves in their respective professional fields."

Carter said Robins has been described as a "successful businessman and compassionate philanthropist and a great asset to his native Central Virginia region."

Robins' leadership of the E.C. Robins International Inc. continues the company's ties to four generations of the Robins family. For more than a century, the Robins family has dedicated its talents and resources in the pursuit of excellence as a leading developer and manufacturer of quality prescription and consumer pharmaceutical productions.

Beginning with the efforts of Albert Hartley Robins, who started the apothecary shops in the 1800s, E.C. Robins International Inc. was founded in 1990 by E. Clairborne Robins Jr. as a tribute to his father and in celebration of the family's 124 years in the pharmaceutical industry.

Robins received a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1968 from the University of Richmond, where he has served as a key member of the board of trustees for the University of Richmond for many years. He also has an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Richmond.

The honorary degree was conferred by Carter, Dr. Dave Morris, chair of the CU Board of Trustees; Heilman and Dr. Frank Cheatham, vice president for academic affairs.

Robins is married to Mary Ellen Wessells Robins and has four children: Gregory Christopher, Sheryl Ann, Mark Claiborne and Erin Hartley.

Ron Rafferty, a member of the CU Board of Trustees and a 1969 graduate of CU who teaches at CU, and he reflected on what he sees on CU's campus. Rafferty said he constantly tells parents, who are leaving their most precious thing in the world at CU - their child - that CU is a place that will love your children.

"Someone at CU will watch over them," he said.

Benji Kelly, vice president for development, was master of ceremonies for the event.

Morris gave the invocation, and Dr. Jeanette Parker, assistant vice president for academic affairs, gave the benediction.

Music was provided by the String Ensemble of the CU School of Music and the group "A New Doxology" from the School of Music, directed by Dr. Tony Cunha, assistant professor of music.

- Joan C. McKinney is director of university communications at Campbellsville University.