Monday, October 10, 2011
It wasn’t until the very moment he heard his named called that Dr. Marion Robinson realized he was Alpha Kappa Psi’s advisor of the year. Those who accompanied him to the national convention in Phoenix, Ariz. didn’t give any notion that he would be receiving the highest honor awarded by the oldest and largest business fraternity in the U.S.
“At the banquet, we were all sitting at the table and I said we were going to the Cheesecake Factory, but they said let’s wait because we want to support other universities from South Carolina,” explained Robinson. He complied, and as the two final awards were being announced, Robinson listened while his biography was being read. Still, he didn’t realize they were speaking of him. Then his name was called.
Mr. Mario Ricoma, faculty advisor of SC State’s Kappa Upsilon chapter, and Anthony Ford, student president, both laughed as they recalled the events of the evening. “He almost forgot he had to get up to accept the award,” chimed Parker. “It took about five minutes for him to go up there,” he joked.
“I had no clue. I was thinking Cheesecake Factory,” laughed Robinson. “When they called my name, I was in shock. My counterparts didn’t say anything.” After getting over the initial shock, Robinson says, “I was excited and then I said, ‘oh but I still owe them.’ I looked and turned to anger on these two (Ricoma and Ford) and Shieka (Glenn) and Robin (Moss) because they didn’t say one word. They kept it a secret the entire time. For me to be speechless, that’s a rare moment.”
Receiving the award for the first time, Robinson reflected on his journey with Kappa Upsilon, which began more than 30 years ago. As the first predominantly Black chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, Kappa Upsilon originated on the campus of SC State in 1981 when Robinson was a sophomore studying business administration. After obtaining both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SC State, Robinson headed to the University of Georgia to pursue his doctorate degree in business education. During this time, Kappa Upsilon began to face many challenges.
“When I graduated, the chapter had some problems and was removed,” said Robinson. “When I came back to SC State, I researched getting it back on campus.” This effort ignited in 1991 when Robinson became assistant professor of business education at his Alma Mater. He also dedicated countless hours to ensure Kappa Upsilon was reinitiated on campus, creating a sense of purpose for many students.
“Dr. Robinson always shares his knowledge with us and he’s always there for us when we need him,” shared Ford, also a senior business management major from Philadelphia, Pa. “He is definitely deserving of this award. It doesn’t matter if he’s involved with a lot of different organizations, classes or students, he’s always there. We all have a personal relationship with him and we all have a business relationship with him. We know what he expects,” adds Ford.
“The benefit is that you get to see the students openly, because they can sit there and pretend and read out of the textbook, but when you are advisor of an organization, you see them at their best and at their lowest,” acknowledges Robinson. “As advisor, you are really their parent, teacher, doctor and lawyer. You’re the whole thing.”
In April 2011, during the Kappa Upsilon alumni banquet, Robinson was met with yet another surprise. “Again I’m sitting at the table and the sectional director, Larry Stevens, and Augustus Dicks, who was the former student president, went up to the podium and started talking. I’m like, why are they up there? What’s going on again?”
Robinson learned that a scholarship for Kappa Upsilon was being named in his honor. The Marion Robinson Scholarship will be combined with Kappa Upsilon’s freshman book scholarship to assist students with the cost of textbooks and other learning materials. During the fall semester, the business fraternity members will also be involved in activities to include Adopt-a Highway and nursing home volunteering. “This year, we are also going to engage in more educational projects,” noted Robinson. “We will bring in additional speakers and set a goal of reaching 100,000 points plus, showing everyone that we can be a phenomenal chapter.”
Ricoma, who received the chapter’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009, humorously said that it was a pleasure not telling Robinson about being advisor of the year, and it became excited when the news was finally revealed. “I was really happy for Dr. Robinson,” shares Ricoma. “Since I’ve been with the chapter in 2005, Robinson has done a lot for this chapter. He’s here whenever needed. If he’s not here, I am. We work together to make the chapter better.”
The two advisors have grown Kappa Upsilon to one of the largest student organizations at SC State. While it was once exclusive to business majors, Kappa Upsilon now attracts students from various academic disciplines, to include nursing, education, speech pathology, military science and biology.
“Kappa Upsilon sharpens your skills. It will make you become more professional,” noted Robinson. “In most instances, no matter what you are going into, you have to be a professional. You have to have good interviewing skills and be able to network.”
According to so many, Robinson is deserving of the award that truly exemplifies Alpha Kappa Psi. He has shown his dedication and commitment to the fraternity and his chapter, giving freely of his time, talent and treasure. He goes above and beyond the call of duty and does what is in the best interest of the chapter and fraternity as a whole. What started as a passion more than three decades ago continues to inspire Robinson today.
“Looking back from 1981 until now, I felt that South Carolina State would be represented positively, and to know what we had to go through to get the chapter back on this campus, proved that we could do it. All the hard work, sweat, tears and fussing has paid off.”