Walter Robinson: Emulating His Kindness

Walter Robinson talks with students.
Walter A. Robinson, who led the Office of Enrollment Management, was known for his “random acts of kindness.” Here he speaks to students in 2015. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Quick Summary

  • Retired Enrollment Management leader died June 9
  • He was known as the “Random Acts of Kindness King”
  • The campus community is encouraged to perform random acts of kindness in his memory
  • Council of African American Parents invites contributions to Walter A. Robinson Memorial Scholarship

A campus memorial event for Walter A. Robinson is being planned for the fall, but his friends and colleagues also wanted to pay tribute to him now. So they are asking people to join them in random acts of kindness for a week in memory of the “Random Acts of Kindness King.”

Meanwhile, a private burial is scheduled for this Friday (June 21) and a private celebration of life is scheduled for next week. Robinson, 66, died June 9 of heart failure at his home in Vallejo, about eight months after retiring as associate vice chancellor of Enrollment Management.

“Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of Walter Robinson” will run from Juneteenth (this Wednesday, June 19) through next Wednesday, June 26.

“He connected with everyone he met, spreading kindness and joy,” states a flier, which goes on to suggest a number of random acts of kindness for people to consider:

“The possibilities are endless,” the flier states. Whatever you do, please consider sharing your kindness on social media — and designate your post with the hashtag #RAKWalter.

Robinson came to UC Davis in 2011 as executive director of Undergraduate Admissions and established the Office of Enrollment Management in 2015. He retired last September after almost 40 years in student services and admissions in higher education, and was remembered at Davis and elsewhere for his commitment to increasing diversity in enrollment.


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See In Memoriam.

Fabrizio Mejia, assistant vice chancellor for student equity and success at UC Berkeley, where Robinson headed undergraduate recruitment and enrollment efforts for six years prior to coming to Davis, told the UC Berkeley news service: “Walter was a titan of higher education access and equity and left an indelible impact on UC Berkeley.

“In his personal time, before and after he retired, he mentored and supported many staff and alums who are now in leadership positions across the country,” Mejia said, as quoted in this story on the UC Berkeley news website. “His wisdom, perspective, humor and inspiration will be deeply missed.”

Stephen Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Berkeley, said Robinson “was one of those leaders who made people around him better.”

“When he moved to UC Davis, he continued to have a broad community impact like he did here. The UC system has lost a treasured colleague.”

Last September, just before Robinson’s retirement, the UC Black Administrators Council presented him with a Harry Le Grande Excellence in Mentorship Award, recognizing his efforts on behalf of African American students, staff and faculty. The council established the award in honor of UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor of Student Affairs upon his retirement at the end of 2016.

Robinson was born in Berkeley and raised in Richmond and Berkeley. He attended the College of Alameda before transferring to California State University, Fresno, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology in 1979.

His survivors include his wife, Michele Butler-Robinson; daughters, Kalia (Jeremiah) of Chicago and Tasheena (Albert) of Columbia, South Carolina; sons, Rashaad (Michelle) of Stockton and Desmond (Rosie) of Las Vegas; stepdaughter, Rachel (Justin) of Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County); and 11 grandchildren.

Read Walter Robinson’s obituary as posted last week by Dateline UC Davis.

Walter A. Robinson Memorial Scholarship

Flier for scholarship
More information about the scholarship is available here.

The Council of African American Parents has set up the Walter A. Robinson Memorial Scholarship for Social Involvement and Leadership Resulting in Beneficial Community Impact, for high school seniors and college-going students. The council is a nonprofit organization that provides information, advocacy, programming and support for student scholars (and their parents) in eastern Los Angeles County and southwestern San Bernardino County.

Donations in support of the Walter A. Robinson Scholarship Fund should be sent to the Council of African American Parents, 23535 Palomino Drive, No. 243, Diamond Bar, California 91765, Attention: Raquel Rall, scholarship chair. Rall is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education, UC Riverside.

A flier announcing the scholarship fund includes the council’s tribute to Robinson, which states, in part:

“Walter A. Robinson was a revolutionary change agent and trailblazer in education. His commitment to providing pathways to higher education for underserved and underrepresented communities set the national standard for effective, compassionate and impactful academic outreach that is culturally and socioeconomically specific because he understood that ‘one size doesn’t fit all.’ … Walter Robinson understood that one child attending college could create generational change, uplifting an entire family out of poverty and hopelessness. Moreover, he understood that a family could significantly impact an entire community by its example, and from there, a rippling healing effect can occur.”

Read the entire tribute and more information about the scholarship fund, on this PDF.

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