Dr. Prezell Russell Robinson is president emeritus of Saint Augustine’s College where he is also Charles A. Mott Endowed Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences. But Robinson’s influence extends far beyond the Raleigh campus where he spent 28 years as the top administrator. He also has made an international imprint during his career.
Robinson is serving for the second time as a U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations. He was first appointed by President Bush in 1992 and was appointed again by President Clinton in 1996. He also was selected by the Department of State to visit and lecture in six African countries in 1971 and was appointed by President Carter to serve on the U.S.-Liberian Commission in 1980.
Robinson, who was born in Batesburg, S.C., graduated from Voorhees School and Junior College in Denmark, S.C., before earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and social science from Saint Augustine’s. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in rural education and rural sociology-economics from Cornell University.
He was a dean and sociology professor at Saint Augustine’s between 1956 and 1964, was appointed executive dean and professor in 1964 and was named acting president in June 1966. He became president and a professor of sociology eight months later.
Robinson has earned recognition throughout his career, both as a faculty member and an administrator. He was voted one of three outstanding teachers at Saint Augustine’s in 1961-62, was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to India in 1965 and selected one of 20 college presidents in the “100 Most Effective Presidents of America” in 1986. Robinson has received 11 honorary degrees.
Robinson has a long history of involvement in the Raleigh community. He is active in the Episcopal Church, at the parish, diocesan and national levels. In addition, Robinson is vice chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education and has served on numerous academic and community organizations. They include: the executive committee of the International Association of University Presidents; the board of directors of The Episcopal Church Fundation; the Association of Southern Colleges and Universities, of which he was president in 1974-75; the executive committee of the United Negro College Fund, of which he was president and a member from 1978 to 1981; the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, of which he was president from 1982 to 1985; the Association of Episcopal Colleges, of which he was president from 1989 to 1994; the board of directors of The Episcopal Church Pension Fund, on which he has served since 1985; and the board of trustees of Peace College in Raleigh and of Voorhees College.
Robinson, who lives in Raleigh, retired in 1995. He and his wife, Lulu, have a daughter.