Elizabeth and Harold Robinson Scholarship - College of Communication and Fine Arts
John Michael “Mickey” Robinson and his wife, Catherine Ladnier, established the Robinson Scholarships at the University of Memphis in 1998 for several important reasons. “I wanted to honor my parents, repay the people and organizations that helped me during my time at the University and make it possible for remarkable students to focus on their education without the necessity for outside employment,” Robinson said.
“My mother was orphaned at age eleven and lived with her great uncle and his wife until she enrolled at West Tennessee State Normal School (now the University of Memphis) in 1923. She wanted to be an English teacher and would have been a fine one. In her second year, the uncle died and she chose to leave school to help support his widow and her younger sister,” explained Robinson.
Robinson attended Memphis State University in the 1960s and received small scholarships but had to work part time for much of his time in college. He graduated in 1968 with a BBA with honors and, later, earned an MBA from Harvard University. In the late 1970s he led the team that started Auto Zone and also ran other large retail businesses.
Robinson chose to establish scholarships in the College of Education, honoring his mother, and in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. More than 150 students have benefited from this gift. In 2011, Robinson and Ladnier were honored as Philanthropists of the Year by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
“The UofM has been good to my extended family. My two older brothers and I attended, as did our mother. In the next generation, six family members graduated and in the fourth generation, we have one graduate and two current students.”
In addition to funding the Robinson Scholarships, Ladnier and Robinson have given back in other ways. They created a scholarship at Ladnier’s alma mater, Mills College, in honor of her parents. Ladnier also serves on the Board of Governors of Mills College and is active in its New York Alumnae Association. Robinson served on the Board of Visitors at the UofM and is a long-standing member of the College of Communication and Fine Arts Dean’s Advisory Board. He is a member of the University of Memphis Column Society and is a loyal Tiger sports fan.