A crowd gathered at the Keweenaw Central Railway closing
Ed Robinson pictured in 1971 at the closing of the Keweenaw Central Railway (yellow hat).

Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics (SBE) alumnus Ed Robinson ‘66 and his wife Betty have generously given to the SBE for 50 years. Their latest gifts created an endowed fellow as well as physical improvements to the Academic Office Building (AOB) that houses the SBE.

It’s been 50 years since Ed Robinson graduated, but his gifts will resonate far into the future.

Last year the couple decided that what they’ve done in the past wasn’t enough and they vowed to do more—much more.

Through the Robinsons’ philanthropy, students will have access to talented professors, additional programs, and improved learning spaces. Eric Halonen, Michigan Tech’s assistant vice president for advancement, said students are the beneficiaries of the Robinsons’ service and philanthropy. 

“Ed and Betty are building the School of Business and Economics with both a building renovation and the faculty fellow position,” Halonen said.

Sam Tidwell Center

Dean Johnson of the SBE, noted Robinson’s past dedication to the school, particularly his work as chair of the Tidwell Center Endowment Campaign. Named after the celebrated late accounting professor Sam Tidwell, the Tidwell Campaign consists of endowed funds to support scholarships and direct student services.

“Ed’s guidance and his generous gift will ensure a lasting bond between legendary faculty like Sam Tidwell and those who will have the honor of serving as the Robinson Fellow,” Johnson said.

Ed said he and Betty want to continue to help the School that has given so much to them.

“Sam Tidwell and other SBE faculty were a great inspiration to me,” he said. “We want to do our small part in helping the SBE on to greater achievements for the benefit of students now and into the future.”

“Fifty years ago, Michigan Tech invested in my husband’s quality education,” says Betty. “He ‘blames’ Professor Sam Tidwell for steering him into a fulfilling public accounting career."

Betty said her husband spent 22 years in public accounting and became Deloitte’s National Industry Director of Transportation as a partner. He also became chair of the American Institute of Certi ed Public Accountants Transportation Committee.

Ed went on to become the chief financial officer of two regional railroads in the Midwest from their inception and continues to serve in that capacity. Noting that faculty are key to student success, Dean Johnson went on to say, “Ed’s gift will support and attract high-quality faculty who are the interface for the next generation of accountants.”

Robinsons Pay-It-Forward

"The Robinsons are making annual gifts that have an immediate impact,” Dean Johnson said. “As a result, renovations in the Academic Office Building have recently been completed. We anticipate filling the Robinson Fellow position in the near future.” 

In addition to the Robinsons’ philanthropy, Ed continues to serve on the SBE Dean’s Advisory Council and the Accounting Advisory Council and is a member of the Academy of Business.

The Robinsons are members of the McNair Society and the 1885 Society, and Ed is a life trustee of the Michigan Tech Fund, as well as a current member of the President’s Advancement Council.

"The Robinsons are a true ‘Michigan Tech family,’” Halonen said. “Ed and Betty’s son, Decha, is a 2006 graduate of the School of Business and Economics as well. Their service and philanthropic spirit are matched by only a very select few.” 

Betty said it’s only fair they give back to the institution that has meant so much to them. “The investment by Michigan Tech paid off, and now it is time we returned a payback to the School of Business and Economics.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.