When it comes to West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics, it's not just business for Bob and Anne Robinson. It's personal.
The Wheeling couple's family is ingrained in WVU's business school. Robert "Bob" Robinson, president of the Robinson Auto Group, is a 1969 business school marketing graduate and a 2013 inductee into the B&E Roll of Distinguished Alumni. Their children, Roberta and Jim, also are graduates of the business school.
So it came as no surprise that the couple, renowned for helping others and their dedication to WVU, decided to provide a $100,000 endowment to establish two scholarships in their children's names.
Wheeling resident Roberta Robinson Olejasz, a 1996 MBA graduate of B&E, is dealer-operator of Bob Robinson Chevy Buick GMC Cadillac. Jim Robinson, a 1992 MBA graduate of B&E, is dealer-operator of Jim Robinson Ford-Lincoln Inc. and Jim Robinson Toyota, and resides in Wheeling. The family owned and operated Robinson Auto Group includes three separate dealerships and nine automotive brands at its Highlands locations.
Bob Robinson is known throughout the Ohio Valley for the highly successful automotive group that bears his family name, as well as a wide range of community efforts. After purchasing his first dealership in 1974 in New Martinsville, he came to Wheeling in 1988 and began the expansion of the Bob Robinson franchise.
Robinson has been honored throughout his professional career, including being inducted into Who's Who in West Virginia Business in 2008. In 2009, he received the YMCA Light of the Valley Award, which honors an individual whose life reflects their contributions and dedication to the quality of life for youth and families in the community. He was also named a Time magazine quality dealer in 2000.
He has served in several leadership capacities, including at Bethany College, the Wheeling YMCA and the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. Robinson has been a member of WVU's Wheels Club since the late 1970s, is a lifetime member of the WVU Alumni Association and is also a member of the Mountaineer Athletic Club. On top of all that, he has two decades of service as a successful girls basketball coach at Wheeling Central Catholic High School.
WVU is also the place where Robinson met his wife Anne. A native of Oakland, Md., Anne had strong family connections to West Virginia University as well. Her father began his college years as a member of the WVU freshman football team. With the campus less than an hour from her hometown, she remembers going to WVU football and basketball games at an early age with her dad, a long-time season ticket holder in both sports.
"Bob and Anne wanted to participate in WVU's capital campaign, and they very much wanted to give back to the College of Business and Economics," said Jose "Zito" Sartarelli, the business school's Milan Puskar Dean. "They were thrilled at the idea of providing scholarships because of their strong senses of giving."
Robinson said that attending WVU rather than another college began as something he did to please his father.
"I thought 50 years ago, 'What's in this for me?' I came to West Virginia University not because I wanted to, but I was living my dad's dream. My parents dropped me off on Wednesday. I kissed my mom, shook my dad's hand, and said, 'I'll see you at Thanksgiving.' On Friday, I hitchhiked back home."
Thinking back to the question he asked himself as a WVU freshman, Robinson said the answer is easy.
"What's in it for me? Everything. Everything seems to stem from that Wednesday drop-off by my parents. My wife and I met here and we made life-long friends here. I was the first in my family to graduate from college here, and now we're in the third generation of Mountaineer alumni in our family."
The Robinsons' hope is to provide that same type of legacy for future Mountaineers.