Generations of Ferris State University College of Pharmacy students will benefit from the largest gift in the university’s 134-year history – a $6.59 million bequest from the estate of the late Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson, of Flint.
The gift will establish the Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson Scholarship Endowment, the income from which will provide financial aid in perpetuity for students enrolled in Ferris’ Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) four-year degree program.
The College of Pharmacy, celebrating its 125th anniversary, has grown to more than 140 graduates, annually, with nearly 7,000 alumni serving in every type of pharmacy practice.
A 1955 Ferris State College Pharmacy honors graduate, Dewaine operated and sold Flint-based Professional Pharmacy, Fenton-Hill Drugs and Bristol Road Drugs, while he also founded a computerized billing company.
Jana studied accounting at Flint Junior College and worked in the college’s registrar’s office and Crestwood Memorial Gardens, in Grand Blanc, before marrying Dewaine, in 1961.
Dewaine passed away in 2009, and Jana died in 2017.
The Robinsons’ gift was publicly announced at the 20th annual Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit in Grand Rapids on Nov. 2.
Ferris President David Eisler joined Vice President for University Advancement and Marketing Shelly Pearcy in expressing sincere appreciation for this unprecedented gift.
“We are both grateful and humbled by the generosity of Dewaine and Jana Robinson,” Eisler said. “Their vision to help Pharmacy students with their education is inspiring. 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. The Robinsons, through this institution-changing gift, have helped make this dream a reality.”
Durst, who has been dean of the College of Pharmacy since 2011 and a faculty member since 1986, said Dewaine was an ardent supporter, giving annually to the Pharmacy program from 1972 until his death.
“It is an extraordinary gift for the college, which will be focused on supporting our students,” Durst said. “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. The impact of the Robinsons’ gift will have a profound effect on recipients throughout the four-year professional curriculum.”
Andy Young, of Owosso, president of Ferris’ Alumni Association Board of Directors and a past president of the Pharmacy Alumni Advisory Board, said he cherished his long acquaintance with Dewaine and the mentorship he offered as a regional leader in their profession.
“Dewaine was very active with the Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA), serving as a founding member and past president, and was a long-time leader of the Genesee County Pharmacists Association,” Young said. “He was a great person and philanthropist, and definitely made his intentions known about wanting to help students become Ferris pharmacists. It is a great thing to see it coming to fruition.”
In 1980, Dewaine was recognized as MPA’s Pharmacist of the Year, the highest honor in Michigan Pharmacy.
Perhaps the proudest among those acknowledging the Robinsons’ gift to the College of Pharmacy is Jim Arnes who, like Dewaine, was a Flint-area high school student working in a local pharmacy with dreams of completing the training and certification necessary to enter the profession.
“We ended up in college and Ferris’ School of Pharmacy together; we were even called into the U.S. Army at the same time, traveling from Fort Leonard to Fort Sam Houston, and on to a field hospital at Fort Lewis, Washington,” Arnes said. “Dewaine showed his pluck by serving as company clerk, and working nights and weekends, off-base, filling prescriptions. He was definitely a thinker and doer.”
Arnes, who also spent his career as a pharmacist in the Flint area and whose four sons graduated from Ferris, said he was proud of his long-standing relationship with Dewaine and Jana.
“Jana was right alongside him, handling the books for their businesses,” Arnes said. “They were definitely rewarded for all of their ambition. 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.”
Pearcy said the Robinson gift is a significant boost to Ferris’ $115 million comprehensive
campaign, “Now and Always,” and to the College of Pharmacy’s goal of doubling scholarship support for its students.
PHOTO CAPTION: Shown here is a photo of Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson. Ferris State University has received the largest gift in its 134-year history – a $6.59 million bequest from the estate of the late Dewaine V. and Jana B. Robinson, of Flint.