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College receives largest-ever gift

November 16, 2018
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Jana Robinson, left, and Dewaine Robinson
Jana Robinson, left, and Dewaine Robinson. Courtesy Ferris State University

A college in the region has received the largest gift in its 134-year history.

Big Rapids-based Ferris State University said yesterday it received a $6.59-million bequest from the estate of Dewaine Robinson and Jana Robinson of Flint.

The endowment will perpetually fund scholarships for students of the Ferris College of Pharmacy. Dewaine Robinson was a 1955 honors graduate of the program.

Dewaine Robinson, who died in 2009, operated and sold Flint-based Professional Pharmacy, Fenton-Hill Drugs and Bristol Road Drugs, as well as founded a computerized billing company.

Jana Robinson, who died in 2017, studied accounting at Flint Junior College and worked in the college’s registrar’s office and Grand Blanc-based Crestwood Memorial Gardens before the couple married in 1961. 

Dewaine Robinson was a founding member and a president of the Michigan Pharmacists Association and a long-time leader of the Genesee County Pharmacists Association.

In 1980, Dewaine was recognized as MPA’s Pharmacist of the Year.

Ferris President David Eisler said school officials are “grateful and humbled” by the gift, which will double scholarship support for College of Pharmacy students.

“It has long been the dream of Steve Durst, our pharmacy dean, that each student in the program would receive a scholarship to help defray the cost of their studies,” Eisler said. “The Robinsons, through this institution-changing gift, have helped make this dream a reality.”

Durst said Dewaine Robinson gave annually to the pharmacy program from 1972 until his death.

He said the new scholarships will have a “profound” effect on students of the four-year program.

“The Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson Scholarship Endowment will make a career in pharmacy easier to attain for some students. For others, because of the gift’s significance, it will make a career in pharmacy possible,” Durst said.

Jim Arnes said he attended pharmacy school with Robinson, and the two were also called into the U.S. Army at the same time. He said Robinson worked off base on nights and weekends filling prescriptions.

The two then spent long pharmacy careers in the Flint area.

“Jana was right alongside him, handling the books for their businesses,” Arnes said.

“She had spoken occasionally of Dewaine’s plans to develop a scholarship endowment at Ferris, after his passing. It is great news to hear that these wishes have come true.”

Ferris said the gift is part of what prompted it to raise the goal of its Now and Always capital campaign from $80 million to $115 million.

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