Regents Celebrate Significant Naming Gift from William and Mary Jo Robbins for Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University

Mary Jo and William K. Robbins
Mary Jo and William K. Robbins (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
Oct. 31, 2014

Regents also approve new Ph.D. program in environmental science, honor Meritorious Achievement Award recipients

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

WACO, Texas (Oct. 31, 2014) – At its annual Homecoming meeting, Baylor University’s Board of Regents announced a significant gift from William K. and Mary Jo Robbins of Houston that will name the University’s newest academic unit focused on health-related education and research – the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University.

“Bill Robbins is a person of immense talent whose character, insight and experience serving as a Baylor Regent has impacted in many ways the University’s forward momentum during a period of unprecedented growth and advancement,” said Richard S Willis, B.B.A. ’81, M.B.A. ’82, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “Bill is a fierce proponent of the Baylor mission. His leadership and generosity have had a lasting impact on academic excellence at Baylor, particularly in the vitally important areas of health science, care and policy. Bill and Mary Jo also care deeply about Baylor’s Christian commitment, and their philanthropy has helped to ensure that our students are built up and supported in their spiritual growth as well. Baylor is the beneficiary of Bill’s intelligence and wisdom on its Board of Regents, and we also are deeply grateful to the Robbins family for their profound financial kindness to Baylor, which will powerfully impact the University both now and in the future.”

Baylor Regents established the College of Health and Human Sciences last May, uniting four existing health-related academic units – communication sciences and disorders; family and consumer sciences; health, human performance and recreation; and the Louise Herrington School of Nursing – to create a forward-looking organizational structure that will draw upon Baylor’s Christian mission and tradition in health care to prepare scholars and leaders who can translate theory into practice and advance knowledge of health, human behavior and quality of life.

“Two of Baylor’s most generous benefactors, Mary Jo and Bill Robbins, have distinguished themselves through philanthropy that has favorably impacted the full spectrum of Baylor’s mission,” said Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr. “From providing students who have financial need access to a Baylor education through a variety of student scholarships, to fortifying the spiritual formation of our student body through construction of the beautiful Robbins Chapel, to the dedicated support of Baylor’s growing focus in health care, both in our School of Business and, now, the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, Bill and Mary Jo have been steadfast, generous and faithful stewards of the Lord’s abundant blessing in their lives, and they have responded to that blessing by a being a blessing to Baylor University and to so many others.”

A Baylor graduate and member of the Board of Regents, Bill Robbins received his bachelor of arts degree in 1952 and bachelor of laws in 1954. He earned a juris doctor from Baylor Law School in 1969. He is founder and CEO of Houston-based North American Corp., which is engaged in consulting, finance, investments and oil and gas activities.

Mary Jo Robbins earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Texas in 1975. During her 27 years in the nursing profession, she opened and managed 10 dialysis facilities in Texas.

With a deep sense of commitment to Christian missions, education and health care, the Robbins have supported important causes throughout the world, both personally and through The Robbins Foundation. The Robbins and The Robbins Foundation support organizations in the United States, Canada, India and other countries, ranging from youth baseball and softball programs to post-secondary education programs, health care initiatives, the arts, entertainment and music.

At Baylor, their leadership gift in 2011 established the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership in the Hankamer School of Business, supporting teaching, external programming and health services research. A gift to the MBA Healthcare Program in 2010 has helped to position Baylor and its students as internationally recognized leaders in the fields of health policy, research and education. In 2006, the Robbins provided the gift that supported construction of Robbins Chapel in Brooks Village, which provides students a place for everyday prayer, meditation and worship.

“On behalf of the Baylor University College of Health and Human Sciences, we are so grateful for the generous gift given by Bill and Mary Jo Robbins to name the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. We are truly humbled by their visionary support that serves to strengthen academic excellence in health-related education and research here at Baylor,” said Shelley F. Conroy, Ed.D., the inaugural dean of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and professor and dean of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. “Together we share a common purpose of improving the quality of life of individuals, families and the global community. We are blessed by sustaining contributions that support Baylor’s vision of Pro Futuris that reminds us that our past is inextricably linked to our future, and our obligation, to God and to the world, continues.”

For their generous support of the University, the Robbins have been honored with the James Huckins, Pat Neff and Presidents Medallions and were inducted into the Judge R.E.B. Baylor Society in 2008. They are members of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston.

Ph.D. in Environmental Science

In other business, Regents approved a new Ph.D. in environmental science that will educate a generation of scientists, scholars and professionals who can address the most challenging environmental issues that face humanity by advancing scientific understanding of environmental health, environmental chemistry and toxicology, which are core specialty areas within the department. In addition, the doctoral program will strengthen the University’s position as a national leader in environmental science graduate and research programs. The program will begin in January 2015.

“Impactful research activities in the environmental and health sciences must combine core research strengths within interdisciplinary team structures to address environmental problems, protect public health, steward the environment and achieve sustainable practices,” said George P. Cobb, Ph.D., professor and chair of environmental science in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The research and graduate education enterprise within the department of environmental science has a well-established history of top-tier research and strong collaborative relationship with natural, physical, social and health science programs. With the addition of the Ph.D. program, the department’s outstanding faculty, students and staff will be poised to help lead Baylor toward the Carnegie Very High Research level that is paramount in Pro Futuris, while boosting the collaborative research base and generating significant levels of external funding at the University.”

Over the next five years, Baylor anticipates an increase in doctoral production in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. In 2014, Baylor produced 28 Ph.D. graduates in STEM fields. By 2019, the University expects that it will award 44 STEM doctoral degrees.

Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards Recipients Honored

On Thursday night, Baylor Regents recognized the recipients of the Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards at a dinner in their honor at the Mayborn Museum Complex. The awards acknowledge Baylor’s important role in American higher education and recognize those who have made significant contributions in a variety of areas which reflect the University’s distinct mission.

Nine individuals and five couples were selected this year as the recipients of accolades, including Baylor Alumni of the Year, Baylor Young Alumna of the Year, Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service, Pro Texana Medal of Service, Baylor Medal of Service Awards for Contributions to the Professions (Medicine and Health Care, Media and Arts), W.R. White Meritorious Service Award, Legendary Mentor Award, Distinguished Achievement Award, Baylor Legacy Awards and the traditional Baylor University Founders Medal.

The 2014 Baylor Meritorious Achievement Award honorees are:

Alumni of the Year

Michael Brandt, B.B.A. ’91, M.A. ’94, and Derek Haas, B.A. ’91, M.A. ’95, writers, directors and producers of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” and movies, such as “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “3:10 To Yuma” and “Wanted.”

Young Alumna of the Year

Katie Norris, B.S.F.C.S. ’08, CEO and founder of Fotolanthropy, which pairs film, photography and philanthropy to document inspiring true stories of people overcoming adversity.

Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service

Jim and Jamie, B.S.Ed. ’82, Loker, longtime missionaries in Mexico and Guatemala. Jim Loker now directs Audio Scripture Ministries, which provides audio recordings of the Bible in many world languages.

Pro Texana Medal of Service

Will Davis Sr., B.B.A. ’54, L.L.B. ’54, attorney and active leader in public education at all levels, including service as chair of the Baylor Board of Regents.

Medal of Service for Contributions to Medicine and Health Care

Robert “Bob” Pryor, B.S. ’73, pediatrician and chief medical officer, chief operating officer and president of Baylor Scott & White Health.

Medal of Service for Contributions to Media and Arts

John Lee Hancock Jr., B.A. ’79, J.D. ’82, acclaimed writer director and producer, responsible for films, such as the Academy Award-nominated “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

W.R. White Meritorious Service Award

Pearl Beverly, M.S.Ed. ’01, inaugural director of the department of multicultural affairs at Baylor University.

Legendary Mentor Award

Bob, beloved professor emeritus of physics and Master Teacher, and Joyce Packard, former assistant dean of Baylor women.

Distinguished Achievement Award

Clyde Hart, B.B.A. ’56, director of track and field and legendary coach of “Quarter Miler U.”

Baylor Legacy Award

Kate McLane Dimmitt, B.B.A. ’56, longtime Baylor advocate, whose family gave the McLane Carillon to Baylor. She also has supported construction of McLane Stadium and championed student scholarships as a member of the Endowed Scholarship Society and steering committee of the President’s Scholarship Initiative at Baylor.

Baylor Legacy Award

Tom, B.B.A. ’60, and Pat, B.B.A. ’62, Powers, who established The Pat and Tom Powers Chair in Investment Management in the Hankamer School of Business and contributed to scholarships for business and social work students and building projects such as the McLane Student Life Center, McLane Stadium and the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

Baylor Legacy Award

Sheila and Walter, B.B.A. ’59, J.D. ’65, Umphrey, who provided foundational support for the new home of Baylor Law School and the construction of the Umphrey Pedestrian Bridge, which extends over the Brazos River and connects McLane Stadium to campus.

Baylor Founders Medal

Gale, B.B.A. ’52, and Connie Galloway, who have been involved in giving back to Baylor for decades through Gale Galloway’s service as Baylor Regent from 1990-98 and board chair in 1994-95, and their support of renovations to Floyd Casey Stadium and its Galloway Suite and generous scholarship support for Baylor students.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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