July 11, 1997

‘Ike Robinson Day’ brought out faculty, stafff to honor VUMC leader

'Ike Robinson Day' brought out faculty, stafff to honor VUMC leader

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Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson (center) and his wife, Ann, with Board of Trust member Monroe Carell Jr. at last week's 'Ike Robinson Day' festivities. Photo by Donna Marie Jones.

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Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson holds up some of the gifts he received at the celebration commemorating his tenure as VUMC leader. Photo by Donna Marie Jones.

Dr. Roscoe R. "Ike" Robinson was roasted, toasted, feted, and honored in a daylong celebration of "Ike Robinson Day" on Friday, June 27.

Robinson, who served 16 years as vice chancellor for Health Affairs at VUMC, and who stepped down from that position June 30, was recognized as a leader who took the medical center through a period of tremendous growth and change through the 1980s and 1990s.

John R. Hall, president of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust, kicked off a program in Langford Auditorium by noting that those in the audience knew Robinson from differing perspectives.

"One thing we can all agree on is Ike's record at Vanderbilt," Hall said, citing a list of Robinson's accomplishments during his tenure.

"I also think we can agree that Ike is a unique individual with an unusual combination of skills. He's a wonderful leader, administrator, a student of the science of medicine and a warm, pleasant person everyone enjoys being with.

"Ike will be a tough act to follow. Where else is there a country doctor, a world-class administrator on the leading edge of medical science ‹ who can get a large contribution from Ebenezer Scrooge?

"Ike, you've transformed this medical center and made it one of the best in the nation. You've inspired us with your leadership. We are forever indebted to you."

Vice Mayor Jay West of Nashville presented Robinson with a proclamation from Mayor Phil Bredesen declaring the day "Ike Robinson Day" in Nashville.

Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt praised Robinson's rare array of managerial skills as a thorough planner and decisive implementor.

"He does all of that with a compassion and sensitivity to the basic values of this university that are also outstanding," Wyatt said.

The values and high standards that Robinson set for himself and VUMC ‹ and the growth of the medical center ‹ will continue as Robinson's lasting legacy, Wyatt said.

"It's not just Ike, it's all of you," Wyatt said. "You have developed a faith and a trust and a knowledge of where this place is going and why it's going there. The best interests of the patients and the students are always at hand, and the new knowledge developed in research here will be developed at the highest levels."

Wyatt also offered praise for Robinson's leadership, along with that of Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, for the aptly managed transition of the School of Nursing into the medical center.

"Indeed, with their leadership, the School of Nursing has flourished and become an integral part of what goes on here in health science and health care, and it will be more so in the future," Wyatt said.

"It was done without missing a beat ‹ it was absolutely miraculous ‹ and I think it was because everyone trusted them, everyone trusted Ike, to do the right thing. In the end, everybody knew that quality was the goal. A harmonious, collegial relationship that so characterizes this university, and particularly this medical center, was going to prevail, whatever difficulties were encountered."

A number of former colleagues from Robinson's days at Duke University were on hand to offer their recollections of Robinson's career ‹ as well as share a few very youthful-looking photographs gleaned from the archives.

They included Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., Florence McAlister Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, at Duke University; Dr. Roger J. Bulger, president of the Association of Academic Health Centers; Dr. Thomas E. Andreoli, Nolan Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Arkansas; Dr. Vincent W. Dennis, chairman of Nephrology and Hypertension at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation; and Dr. William G. Anlyan, chancellor emeritus, Duke University Medical Center.

The event also served as an opportunity to reiterate the importance of basic and clinical research to VUMC's other missions of education and patient care.

Stanley Cohen, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry, highlighted the dedication to the basic sciences that has flourished under Robinson's leadership, and Dr. John A. Oates Jr., Thomas F. Frist Professor and chair of Medicine, described the ever-increasing role of clinical investigation in the advancement of new knowledge.

The day's program concluded with brief remarks by Edward G. Nelson, chairman of the medical center board, and board members Dr. Judson G. Randolph, Dr. Laurence A. Grossman and Monroe J. Carell Jr.

Soon after, the conference participants joined hundreds of other faculty, staff and guests in a tent of the West Lawn of Light Hall for an ice cream social.

"Ike Robinson Day" concluded with a black tie dinner at the Renaissance Hotel. The dinner, attended by 650 guests, featured toasts from friends, officials, and colleagues. Among those rising to give tribute to Robinson's leadership were Grossman, Pat Wilson, Elizabeth Proctor, and, on tape, Vice President Al Gore and Senator Bill Frist.

The fact that First American Bank President Danny Bottorff referred to Robinson as "an easy man to toast and a hard man to roast" didn't stop numerous roasters from having some fun at Robinson's expense, including the screening of a videotape of a "typical" Robinson meeting, featuring various antics from Norman B. Urmy, Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, Bill Hance, and Julia Morris, while a life-size cardboard cutout of Robinson "chaired" the meeting.

After the tributes and hijinks, a clearly-moved Robinson took the stage with his wife Ann and thanked the gathered group.

"Thanks to Ann, who for 45 years has never complained. She is a tremendous partner," he said.

"The medical center is better than I found it. Its future is bright and you can count on a world-class successor who will take Vanderbilt University Medical Center to greater heights.

"Today has been a wonderful day."