President made changes at predecessor of ASU

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Gerald Robins stepped onto the Junior College of Augusta campus in 1957 and found something that resembled a military installation more than a place for learning.

Dr. Gerald Robins: Educator was president for 13 years at the Junior College of Augusta, now Augusta State University.  Special
Special
Dr. Gerald Robins: Educator was president for 13 years at the Junior College of Augusta, now Augusta State University.

That wasn't a problem for Robins, though. Nothing really ever was.

"He used to tell me, 'Now don't tell me a problem unless you want me to solve it,' " said Fay Robins, his wife of 64 years. "That was his way of looking at life: If there's a problem, let's get on it and solve it."

Dr. Gerald "Gerry" Robins, 86, died Nov. 23 in Kingsville, Texas.

In 1957, he took the job as the fifth president of the Junior College of Augusta. It was the college's first year at its new campus on Walton Way.

During his first five years at the college, he saw the student body triple in size and worked to transform the campus of warehouses into something resembling a college.

"He took it as a challenge and got to where he could read architecture plans along with the best of them," his wife said. "Of course, he had to make 50 million decisions."

Robins had served in World War II as a combat navigator on a B-17. He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. The Arkansas native obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arkansas and his doctorate from the University of Georgia.

For 13 years, Robins stayed on as president, seeing the name change to Augusta College in 1958, the first baccalaureate degrees conferred in 1967, and WACG -- the first noncommercial radio station operated by a University System of Georgia school -- go on the air.

In March 1970, Robins took a monthlong tour of educational facilities in seven countries.

"Education was his life," Fay Robins said.

His family isn't sure where he caught the education bug.

"I think he really loved people and the idea of helping people, especially young people, trying to find themselves careerwise," his widow said.

Both of his children pursued careers in education.

In Augusta, Robins enjoyed golfing and attended Trinity-on-the-Hill Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school.

In 1973, the family moved to Kingsville, where they currently reside, so Robins could take the position of president of Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). He stepped down in 1977 but continued for several years as a professor of teacher education.

Dr. Gerald Robins: Educator was president for 13 years at the Junior College of Augusta, now Augusta State University.

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