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Maintaining a Strong Legacy

Maintaining a Strong Legacy

Dr. T. Richard “Dick” Robe grew up in Athens, so Ohio University has always felt like home to him. His connections to the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology run deep, because over the course of 60 years he was a student, an acting instructor, an instructor, a professor and a dean for 16 years. Dr. Robe and his wife, Eleanora “Ellie,” not only dedicated many years in service to Ohio University, but also maintained a commitment to the Russ College and Ohio University through their charitable contributions. They have made financial contributions through charitable gift annuities and IRA charitable rollovers.
Dr. Robe’s Ohio University story began in 1951 when he enrolled as a student. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1955 with high honors. He first worked for General Electric Co. for nearly a year before he reported for active duty in the US Air Force as a ROTC commissioned officer, serving as a jet fighter pilot on active duty from 1956 to 1959, and completing his 30 years of USAF Reserves service in 1985. After his active duty service and following another brief period with GE, he returned to his home, Ohio University, to continue his education and to serve as an engineering instructor while completing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1962. Following that, he earned his Ph.D at Stanford University in applied mechanics.
Dr. Robe spent the next 15 years at the University of Kentucky, where he served for three years as the associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Engineering and spent one year in the president’s office as an ACE Fellow and special assistant.
In 1980, Dr. Robe returned to Athens, this time to serve as the dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. One of the highlights of Dr. Robe’s time as a professor and dean was having the opportunity to contribute to the education of more than 10,000 engineering students over his 50+ years in academia and to help build a dedicated faculty, outstanding teaching and research programs, and major endowments for the Russ College.
As dean, he helped envision and establish exceptionally strong engineering instructional and research programs, thus enriching the reputation of the Russ College. In 1981, he initiated the College’s selective admission standards to improve the student body and named professorships to strengthen the faculty. In 1992, Dr. Robe was appointed the Cruse W. Moss Professor of Engineering Education and now in retirement, is the Moss Professor Emeritus as well as Dean Emeritus. The Moss Professorship was designed so that it can be awarded to each dean of the Russ College. Dr. Dennis Irwin, Russ College dean, currently holds this title.

When Dr. Robe retired as dean in 1996, the Russ College’s Board of Visitors honored him and his wife by creating and endowing the T. Richard and Eleanora K. Robe Leadership Institute, with the mission of encouraging and promoting effective leadership among the College’s students, faculty, and staff. The institute provides opportunities for those with leadership potential to acquire the knowledge and skills that will help them become more successful leaders in the engineering and business worlds. Dr. Robe served as the institute’s first director, thereby continuing his service and making him the architect of the institute’s programs, which are now in their 15th year.
Over the years, Dr. Robe has demonstrated great enthusiasm in inspiring students to pursue their engineering education. Now, through their charitable contributions, he and Mrs. Robe are able to add opportunities for students to become better educated and well prepared to contribute to their profession and to society.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Robe have dedicated their lives to engineering students, striving for excellence in teaching and research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Along the way they have met and worked with some remarkable people, including the Russes, for whom the College is named, and C. Paul and Beth K. Stocker, for whom the Stocker Engineering and Technology Center is named. They also esteem the Abrahams, Bakers, Callahans, Carrs, Daubenmires, Grieners, Loehrs, Mosses Nolans, and the Pages, alumni who faithfully served on the Russ College’s Board of Visitors during Dr. Robe’s tenure-- thereby being an instrumental part of the College’s history.
Dr. Robe maintains close ties with the University by returning each fall quarter to serve as one of the speakers for the Robe Leadership Institute as well as serving as one of the institute’s advisors. To him, “it is truly a joy to return and help students prepare for their future professional roles.”
We can all learn a thing or two from Dr. Robe. He achieved success by staying dedicated to what is closest to his heart. His contributions and service have helped open the window of opportunity for many students at Ohio University. He not only helped to establish the Robe Leadership Institute, but also The T. Richard and Eleanora K. Robe Leadership Institute Professorship and Cutler Scholarship for the Russ College.
For Dr. and Mrs. Robe, it is all in the spirit of trying to make a better place for students, faculty and staff in the Russ College by building on the legacy of the Stockers, the Russes, and the many others who have generously contributed to the Russ College and the University’s success.
If you are interested in contributing with an IRA rollover, or if you have questions, please contact Kelli Kotowski, Executive Director of Gift Planning, at (740) 593-1819 or kotowskk@ohio.edu


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