Jim Robinson and Lysander Dudley Sr. died within days of each other this week. Robinson, who served as Foundation president from 1984 until his retirement in 1998, passed away Tuesday in Arizona. He was 81. Dudley, who served as executive director (title later changed to president) of the Foundation from 1976-1983, died Wednesday in Florida. He was 83.
Marty Becker, a longtime member of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors, worked with both Robinson and Dudley. He said each, in their own time, “were transformational leaders of the Foundation and put in place the building blocks of governance, fundraising and financial stewardship that are hallmarks of today’s WVU Foundation.”
He added, “Both were incredible personalities with a unique skill of connecting with WVU’s varied constituencies. Their legacies were unique, but their love of West Virginia and West Virginia University were shared and treasured. Having served on the board of directors with both of these gentlemen, it was obvious each was the right leader for their period of WVU Foundation success.”
Former WVU President Neil Bucklew knew both men. He worked closely with Robinson during his time as University president and they remained good friends.
“We worked together on the capital campaign for the University, calling on individuals together,” Bucklew remembered. “We became very close friends, both professionally and personally. Our families became close. Away from the job and after Jim retired, we really enjoyed golfing together and going on fly fishing trips.”
While he didn’t work directly with Dudley, Bucklew says he got to know him while WVU president, and enjoyed his jovial, outgoing personality.
“Both men loved and supported WVU, and left a definitive mark on the University,” Bucklew said.
During Robinson’s years as president, the Foundation’s assets grew from $32 million to $317 million with a special focus on major gift fundraising. During the same period, disbursement of private funds to the University grew from about $8 million to $20 million annually. Robinson oversaw the successful completion of The Campaign for West Virginia University, which received more than $130 million.
In honor of Robinson’s accomplishments, the University named a reading room in WVU’s Wise Library for him, and the Foundation Board of Directors created an endowment for the acquisition and maintenance of books for the reading room.
Before being named Foundation executive director in 1976, Dudley served as associate director for fundraising at the Foundation and director of development for the University. Prior to that, he spent time in West Virginia state government serving as commerce commissioner.
It was during Dudley’s leadership that an independent and expanded board of directors was established, and the first capital campaign for WVU, Threshold to Greatness, was launched. The campaign would raise $21.2 million, $1.2 million beyond its $20 million goal.
“The legacy of Lysander Dudley and Jim Robinson resonates throughout the WVU Foundation, as each was able to move the Foundation to the ‘next level’ of success in their own, special way,” said Cindi Roth, Foundation President & CEO. “The current fabric of this organization, in part, is a reflection of the growth and development that occurred during each of their times of leadership. It is indeed a sad day in the life of our Foundation having lost two of our own. We extend our deepest sympathies to both the Dudley and Robinson families at this difficult time.”
There will be no formal funeral/memorial service for Robinson. Family and friends will gather to celebrate his life Sunday, Jan. 18, in Green Valley, Ariz. Funeral arrangements for Dudley are incomplete at this time.
CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
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