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Profile: Dick Robertson '67
Alumnus makes good in Hollywood, Richmond
“There's one man probably most responsible for lighting my fire,” says Dick Robertson, 1967 alumnus and president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. He credits his successful career to Bob Wilson, a professor of advertising media in the Department of Mass Communications.
“He made the subject so fascinating, so interesting,” Robertson said.
Working part-time at NBC12, he combined classroom theory in a real-world setting.
“Putting the two together gave me a huge head start over people who didn't have that experience,” Robertson said. “This university prepares you for life and for going to work right out of the chute.”
The enthusiastic former mountain hiker, sometimes golfer, and great all-around guy, rose quickly through the ranks of several broadcast organizations and, ultimately, landed in one of the top slots at Warner Bros.
Robertson and his wife, Marianne, have long championed VCU. The couple hosts two, two-week, all-expense paid internships for advertising and mass communications students at Warner Bros. each year. The students sit in on pitch meetings where agents sell television ideas, watch the filming of programs such as "ER" and work in research and creative services.
The Robertsons also host the VCU Lady Rams tennis team each year. “The whole team says at our house in Malibu,” Robertson said. “[They] have a great time. It's fun for Marianne because she came to America as a European 21-year-old on a tennis scholarship just like most of the VCU team.”
From 1992-1999, Robertson served as chairperson of the “Partners for Progress” Campaign, which surpassed its $125 million goal by 33 percent and 16 months ahead of schedule. The success of the campaign is due in large part to Robertson’s love for VCU, his leadership style and an innate ability to instill enthusiasm in others. More than 56,000 alumni, friends, corporations and foundations made a gift to the Partners Campaign.
In honor of Robertson’s commitment to VCU, the university has named the renovated, three-story brownstone at 924 West Franklin Street the Richard T. Robertson Alumni House.
Profile: Waverly Cole '54
From medicine to music
When Dr. Waverly Cole needs rejuvenation, he turns to music. A graduate of the Medical College of Virginia (MD'54), Cole looks to music to provide him with escape from the realities of work, home and life.
“Music to me is an escape to happiness,” Cole said. “It just takes you from reality into the heavens. I really believe that when you are exposed to good music, it rejuvenates you.”
Much to Cole's dismay, the style of music that provides him with spiritual and emotional comfort is vanishing. In recent years, he has noticed the quality of organ music has diminished and interest in the organ has waned.
“There is a shortage of church musicians,” Cole said. “Most schools of music have cancelled their organ programs. In fact, in many music programs, organ training is obsolete.”
Cole has taken steps to reinvigorate student interest in organ music by establishing the Waverly M. Cole Music Fund in VCU's Department of Music. The fund supports scholarships for music students at VCU, with priority given to organists and other prospective church musicians.
“I have long been impressed with the quality and caliber of VCU's music program, and its organ program is exceptional,” Cole said. “Unfortunately, student interest in the organ has decreased. I wanted to encourage students to pursue organ training, and felt that I could do this with this scholarship.”
Cole has long been an ardent champion of Virginia Commonwealth University, supporting the School of the Arts and the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Education.
“I feel it is so important to support the university,” Cole said. “It does so much for Richmond as well as Virginia and has provided me with a wealth of cultural and educational experiences over the years. I am fortunate to be able to give back to something which has given me so much.”