Distinguished dairy businessmen Dick and Eddie Robinson, brothers noted for leading Robinson Dairy of Denver and for their dedicated philanthropy, have donated more than $500,000 to Colorado State University for use in major renovation of the Animal Sciences Building on campus.
The pacesetting gift is the largest private donation so far to the $13.4 million project, which will overhaul the 56-year-old building that houses the CSU Department of Animal Sciences, its offices, laboratories and classrooms.
Dick Robinson graduated from CSU with a degree in animal science in 1951, and Eddie followed in 1954. After serving in the U.S. Army, the brothers took over their fourth-generation family business and rose to prominence in Colorado’s agricultural and business circles.
“We are both graduates in animal science, and the school did a lot for us. It gave us good opportunities and a start in running our family business,” said Dick Robinson, whose great-grandfather established Robinson Dairy in 1885. “We had a great education, and we hope students who learn in this renovated building will have the same kind of opportunities in their careers. It’s going to be amazing.”
In December 2011, the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System set the stage for building upgrades with approval of $7.5 million in bonding for the project, meaning the university must attract nearly $6 million in donations to complete renovations. Fund-raising is approaching the half-way mark, said Kevin Pond, head of the Department of Animal Sciences.
“This donation from Dick and Eddie Robinson is a very important lead gift for the renovation project,” Pond said. “We really appreciate that they’ve stepped forward to transform facilities that are integral to our teaching and research. Our modernized facilities will help us attract and retain talented students and faculty, and are critical to preparing students for challenges ahead in animal agriculture.”
In January, about 70 graduate students, faculty and staff members moved out of the Animal Sciences Building and into temporary offices on campus. Asbestos abatement is under way in the building; demolition will begin in April, and construction will start shortly after. The renovation will be complete in spring 2014, Pond said.
The project will provide state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms – and will feature an atrium with an airy gathering space and conference room named for the Robinsons. The updated building, totaling nearly 42,000 square feet, promises to be a showcase for the largest department in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences, a department with about 800 students and renowned programs in equine science, meat science and farm-animal welfare.
Robinson said he hopes his gift will prompt others to donate and will invigorate CSU’s agricultural programs, which are a foundational part of the land-grant university.
“This project is going to do a lot for the school and its students, and will raise the profile of agriculture,” he said. “The Department of Animal Sciences is a first-class operation, and this facility is something they need to offer great learning opportunities for students.”
Dick and Eddie Robinson have retired from their posts as co-chief executive officers of Robinson Dairy, but they maintain offices at the Denver headquarters. Dean Foods, based in Dallas, has been parent company of Robinson Dairy since 2001.
The Robinsons are among Colorado’s best-known agricultural business people and community patrons. They are longtime CSU supporters and together were named 2009 Citizens of the West by the National Western Stock Show. The brothers are laureates of the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, have supported numerous charitable organizations, and in 2012 were honored for outstanding service by the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center in Denver.
A second phase in the Animal Sciences Building’s transformation, which has not yet been scheduled, will include construction of a large auditorium, new food innovation center and a new meats laboratory, among other highlights.