FHSU celebrates naming of business college

Robbins dedication group

10/20/16 dgo, rlg
HAYS, Kan. -- When their children were young, W.R. and Yvonne Robbins usually took the whole family out to eat on the couple's wedding anniversary.

The three Robbins children, now grown, were all together once again Thursday as their parents celebrated their marriage day of Oct. 20. This time, however, they had a whole lot of others celebrating with them.

In a jam-packed Sunset Atrium of Fort Hays State University's Memorial Union, the university celebrated the naming of its business college the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

At their regular monthly meeting in September, the Kansas Board of Regents approved the naming of the college.

Coincidentally, the dedication day was set for Thursday, Oct. 20, the anniversary date of the Robbins couple, who gave a sizable donation to the FHSU Foundation.

It also fell on the day the regents were visiting the FHSU campus for their October meeting, and the regents were present to witness the announcement about the naming of the college.

"We are so happy and privileged to be here today," said Zoe Newton from Sedan, chair of the KBOR. "It's a special treat to conclude our visit celebrating a great day with a wonderful couple.
Fort Hays State University is right to celebrate such generous support from graduates who have not only accomplished success and stature in their own right, but who are ready and willing to give back to their alma mater."

W.R. Robbins presented his wife with a red rose but declined to say how many years they had been married.

"If I had a rose for every year, I wouldn't have enough room in my SUV to get them here," he said with a smile.

The couple also wishes not to disclose the substantial donation it gave to the business college.
W.R. Robbins is chair of Farmers Bank and Trust, Great Bend, which owns and manages seven locations in central Kansas and two in Johnson County.

Numerous employees from several Farmers Bank and Trust locations were present at the celebration, as was U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, who grew up in nearby Plainville, attended FHSU and raised his family in Hays.

"This is the beginning of something new, and it's such an honor to be with you and your family today," Moran said. "W.R. and Yvonne Robbins have made great contributions to the Fort Hays State University community, and their lives exemplify the values of hard work and passion that are so important to FHSU students.

"I look forward to seeing FHSU's College of Business and Entrepreneurship continue its tradition of preparing generations of Kansas students for success," he added.

FHSU President Mirta M. Martin agreed.

"This is a very special day for Fort Hays State University. Today's gift marks the beginning of a new era at FHSU. It marks the beginning of a new journey for all of these students at Fort Hays State University," she said, glancing at a group of students in the crowd.

"What I would challenge you to do," she said to the students, "what I would implore you to do is to remember the roots that you have been given here, not unlike the roots W.R. Robbins received when he was here."

Robbins told the crowd how he first became associated with FHSU as a student, earned a degree and began his banking career by "selling myself."

"It's commitment and passion that has driven me," he said. "Anybody today, if they want to succeed, you just need to be completely passionate about what you're doing, and you had better be willing to work 24/7."

Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, thanked the Robbins couple for their long-time support of the university as he handed them new gold shirts with an embroidered logo of the college bearing their name.

"The university is proud to name the 'W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship' in honor of this highly successful couple who has contributed leadership to Kansas in a multitude of ways," Bannister said. "In addition to recognizing two outstanding people today, we also use this naming to express thanks to W.R. and Yvonne Robbins for key financial backing of the college."

Jason Williby, president and CEO of FHSU's Foundation, thanked the guests of honor as well.

"This is a historic day in our journey at Fort Hays State," Williby said. "Thank you to W.R. and Yvonne Robbins for their amazing generosity to this school. Research has shown there were business classes here in the beginning. For 114 years we have been delivering business education to students. So while 1902 was historic for our university, Oct. 20, 2016 will be a historic day as well."

To learn more about the FHSU Foundation, visit http://foundation.fhsu.edu.

Cutline: From left are W.R. Robbins, FHSU President Mirta M. Martin, Yvonne Robbins and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran.

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