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Chancellor Elwood Robinson named “Outstanding Alumnus” by Penn State

WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson

Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson has been named an Outstanding Alumnus by Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Psychology. The honoring committee called out Robinson’s distinguished career as a teacher, researcher, and administrator, noting that his “research on the psychosocial and behavioral aspects of disease and illness in African Americans and … leadership of Winston-Salem State University” were particularly noteworthy. Robinson earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Penn State in 1986.

“I am so humbled by this recognition,” said Robinson. “The Penn State Department of Psychology has cultivated so many talented psychologists. It is truly an honor to receive this acknowledgement.”

A native of Ivanhoe, North Carolina, Robinson graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in 1978 with a degree in psychology and then earned a master’s degree in the field from Fisk University in Tennessee. After completing a pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center – performing rotations in neuropsychology, psychiatric inpatient and behavioral medicine and health psychology – he began his doctoral work in clinical psychology at Penn State. He later completed his clinical training as a research associate at Duke University Medical Center.

Robinson joined the faculty at NCCU in 1984. In 1993, he was named Director of the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program, which provides research-training opportunities for students and faculty from minority groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. From 1993 to 1996, Robinson also served as chair of NCCU’s Psychology Department. In 2006, Robinson was named founding dean of the NCCU College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. He remained in the post until he left North Carolina for the role of provost and vice president of Cambridge College in 2012.

Robinson is currently the 13th Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University – a position he has held since Jan. 1, 2015. As the chief executive officer of WSSU, Robinson has overseen the development of an ambitious strategic plan that sets a course for the university to be recognized as a leader in educating students who thrive in a dynamic society. 

Robinson’s many accomplishments since completing his education include:

  • Mentoring more than 100 MARC scholars with more than 80 percent attending graduate school and 40 percent achieving doctoral degrees.
  • Instituting a clinical psychology master’s degree program, developing a faculty development program, increasing external funding, and improving graduation rates for psychology majors by 25 percent, and generating more than $15 million in external funding while a professor and department chair at NCCU.
  • Overseeing the accreditation of 16 programs, establishing a Department of Social Work, securing funding for a $1 million endowed professorship, and developing a national partnership with the Institute for Homeland Security and the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium while dean at NCCU.
  • Forging the first private/state partnership in New England between Cambridge College and Granite State College in New Hampshire to offer online programs.

Active in professional and civic organizations, Robinson has received numerous awards and honors over the course of his career. A former National Institutes of Health Fellow, he has received the Sigma Xi Award (1995), the Omega Psi Phi Founder’s Award (2007), an Image Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (2003), and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (2012). He has served on the boards of the YMCA of the Greater Triangle, the Center for Child and Family Health, and the Uplift Foundation, and has served as a delegate for the People to People Citizen Ambassador Program to China, Egypt and South Africa.

Robinson is married to Denise Robinson, a 1978 NCCU graduate and former elementary school teacher. Together, they have two children: Chanita Robinson Coulter, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and school teacher living in Charleston, South Carolina; and Devin, a student at North Carolina A&T State University.

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