Walter A. Robinson: Forever Welcoming

Four men give a step dance performance.
Celebrating the life of Walter A. Robinson: Members of the Phi Beta Sigma Inc., Lambda Kappa Chapter, gave a step performance and expressed their gratitude to Robinson for his mentorship of their fraternity. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

UC Davis celebrated the life of Walter A. Robinson last week, with an afternoon program of more than two dozen speakers who remembered the retired associate vice chancellor of Enrollment Management for his kindness and generosity ...

... his mentoring and his success in boosting the diversity of our student body ...

... his recollection of everyone’s names, students and staff alike, and taking time to talk with them on a personal level — in fact, speakers said, walking across campus with him could take a long, long time!

Members of Walter A. Robinson's family, on stage, with Chancellor Gary S. May.
Robinson’s daughter Kalia Abiade speaks on behalf of his family. Pictured behind her, from left, Chancellor Gary S. May; Robinson’s wife, Michele Butler-Robinson; daughter Tasheena Ticer,; son Rashaad Robinson; niece Makia White; and stepdaughter, Rachel Ramirez. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The consensus opinion? He had a welcoming nature that no one will forget.

And how could we? He was, after all, the administrator behind the opening of the UC Davis Welcome Center. And, within and outside that building at the campus's south entry, he is destined to forever welcome all who come to UC Davis.

Welcome Center exterior
This will become the Walter A. Robinson Welcome Center.

“We want all who visit UC Davis to see Walter’s name when they enter our Gateway District,” Chancellor Gary S. May said at the campus memorial held Tuesday (Oct. 8) in The Pavilion at the ARC. More than 200 people attended.

The chancellor then announced that the campus intends to change the name of the Welcome Center to the “Walter A. Robinson Welcome Center,” but not immediately, because the change can only occur once the timeline outlined in campus policy is satisfied.

Alissa Magorian, speaking at podium.

Speakers also remembered Robinson for his random acts of kindness. “I encourage you all to carry the spirit of Walter’s kindness with you every day,” said Alissa Magorian, who served as his administrative assistant.

After Robinson’s death last June, at age 66, Magorian organized a Random Acts of Kindness event in his memory. (The campus delayed the celebration of life until the fall, because a June date would have conflicted with finals and commencement.) And, starting this coming June, Magorian announced, “Walter Robinson Acts of Kindness” will be an annual event, June 9 through Juneteenth (June 19), during which time “we will intentionally spread kindness across campus and our communities.”

“These acts can be big or small — you may donate to scholarships in Walter’s name, contribute goods to The Pantry, bring flowers to a colleague, or become a mentor for the Guardian Scholars Program,” she said. “The possibilities are endless.”

“Remembering Walter Robinson”: Colleagues and students talk about their friend and mentor in this video presented at the celebration of his life.

The celebration of life included announcements of two scholarships:

Spoken word: Denisha “Coco Blossom” Bland, representing the UC Davis-sponsored Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, or SAYS. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

●︎ Walter A. Robinson SMASH Scholarship, for incoming freshmen who are alumni of the SMASH Academy (SMASH stands for Summer Mathematics and Science Honors), a program that Robinson helped bring to UC Davis.

SMASH is a free, three-year summer residential college preparatory program for high school students from low-income or historically underrepresented backgrounds, or who will be the first in their family to attend college. SMASH operates at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Stanford, and at several other universities outside of California.

The Walter A. Robinson SMASH Scholarship is for alumni of any SMASH program who are admitted to UC Davis. Eligible students will receive four-year scholarships to support their studies. Contributions are welcome through the UC Davis Giving website. For more information, contact Jane Fortner by email or phone, 530-752-3655.

●︎ Walter Anthony Robinson Memorial Scholarship for Social Involvement and Leadership Resulting in Beneficial Community Impact, for high school seniors and college-going students. Administered by the Council of African American Parents, 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 this scholarship 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. For more information, contact Rall by email or phone, 909-497-9044.

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Primary Category

Secondary Categories