On Friday, June 3 family, friends, alumni, and community members gathered in the Ukrop Auditorium of Queally Hall for a momentous occasion—the induction of E. Claiborne Robins, R’31, into the Robins School of Business Alumni Hall of Fame.

Jim Merritt, regional development officer in University Advancement, approached Dean Nancy Bagranoff with the idea to establish an Alumni Hall of Fame. After agreeing on the concept, the Robins School’s Executive Advisory Council was tasked with carrying out the implementation and selection process.

Dean Bagranoff opened the evening and welcomed the audience before turning the podium over to University of Richmond’s President Crutcher, who had the distinction of introducing the family members of the honoree, while also speaking to his character, and the lasting impact Mr. Robins left on the University and on higher education. 

In 1969, when financial issues threatened the University, Robins donated $50 million. Before passing on July 6, 1995, at the age of 84, Robins and his wife, Lora, gave more than $175 million to Richmond throughout their lifetime.

Having launched his career in the same year that Mr. Robins gave the “gift,” President Crutcher quickly became aware that no living benefactor had ever given a gift of that size to an American university. Through his generosity, Robins ignited a conversation within higher education that changed its landscape forever.

President Crutcher expressed, “What made Mr. Robins’ gift so remarkable was not just its size, though that was notable, but his vision. E. Claiborne Robins understood that his investment could create an institution of distinction capable of graduating global citizens who would make a difference in the world.”

His gift not only provided the financial means to transform the University, but it also extended an invitation to all who love it to join in imagining its future and helping the campus achieve new heights.

Of the $50 million donated, $10 million was set aside as a challenge grant to encourage others to give and to embrace the belief that education is the very best investment one can make for the Commonwealth, the nation and the world.

To fulfill its promise, the University would be required to not only focus on academic excellence, but on the community of students, faculty, alumni, staff, neighbors and friends who all who make the University such an extraordinary place.

“Today I stand before you as the grateful leader of an institution with the wind at its back. I share in Mr. Robins’ belief that education is still the best investment one can make,” President Crutcher remarked.

Throughout the ceremony, President Crutcher demonstrated the Robins School’s continuous pursuit of Mr. Robins’ vision with passion and purpose. E. Claiborne Robins is not only the Robins School’s benefactor, he also serves as a guiding hand – symbolizing a business acumen, the spirit of entrepreneurship and the importance of community.

Following President Crutcher’s remarks, Anna McKean, vice chair of the Robins School of Business Executive Advisory Council and president of Aviant Health, highlighted the rigorous selection process used for selecting Alumni Hall of Fame inductees.

A short video “The Gift,” originally made in 2009 for the 40th anniversary of the donation, was then shown.

In closing, Dean Bagranoff presented the plaque that will hang on the wall in the atrium of the school and bear the names of each recipient in the years to come. Dean Bagranoff presented a special gift to E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., R’68, as he took the stage to give remarks on his father’s extraordinary life and accept the award on his behalf.

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