The Robins name runs through the fabric of the University of Richmond. With the news of the passing of Mrs. Lora M. Robins, H'73, widow of the late E. Claiborne Robins, the University reflects on the remarkable life of a woman whose generosity changed this university and the greater Richmond area.

The Robins family’s $50 million gift to the University in 1969 was, at the time, the largest gift ever given to an institution of higher education by a living donor, and it marked the beginning of the University’s transformation into a nationally recognized liberal arts institution. Throughout the following decades, the Robins family continued to give generously to Richmond — their contributions total more than $200 million and touch every area of the University.

“The Robins family has given the University of Richmond the opportunity to be more than it could have otherwise imagined, and Mrs. Robins was there at every step of the way, guiding and shaping our future,” said University president Edward Ayers. “We are profoundly grateful.”

Walking across campus, their impact is evident in residence halls, courtyards, and rooms named after family members, including Mrs. Robins; in the business school, named for E. Claiborne Robins in 1979; and most recently in the new E. Claiborne Robins Stadium, which stands next to the Robins Center, the University’s athletic center and commencement venue.

The family’s support also established endowed professorships and chairs, and created numerous scholarships.

In 1977, Mrs. Robins shared her love for beauty in nature by founding the University’s natural sciences and art gallery that bears her name, the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature. She generously gave several artifacts from her personal collection and continued to support University Museums throughout her life.

Mrs. Robins was an active supporter of the Richmond area’s nonprofit institutions, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross. She also was a longtime supporter of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

“Lora Robins has been a vital part of Richmond,” said Ayers. “Indeed, there is hardly a nonprofit organization in the city that has not benefited from her generosity and from her refreshing honesty and good humor.” 

Mrs. Robins passed away on Sunday, Aug. 22, at the age of 98.

The University flag will remain lowered this week in recognition of her passing.