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Campus mourns loss of Walter Robinson, a ‘titan of higher education’

Robinson led Berkeley's undergraduate recruitment and enrollment efforts from 2005 to 2011

a man speaks to a crowd
Walter Robinson spoke to potential students during a recruiting event for UC Davis in 2014. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

UC Berkeley is mourning the loss of Walter Robinson, who headed up the campus’s undergraduate recruitment and enrollment efforts from 2005 to 2011. He passed away at his home in Vallejo on June 9 at age 66. 

“Walter was a titan of higher education access and equity and left an indelible impact on UC Berkeley,” said Fabrizio Mejia, Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor for student equity and success. “In his personal time, before and after he retired, he mentored and supported many staff and alums who are now in leadership positions across the country. HIs wisdom, perspective, humor and inspiration will be deeply missed.”

Robinson left Berkeley for UC Davis in 2011, to become executive director of undergraduate admissions, and in 2015 was promoted to associate vice chancellor. Robinson retired from Davis last September. 

At both Davis and Berkeley, he led efforts to build classes of incoming students that represented the diversity of California’s high school students. 

“I have many good memories of Walter, including when we spoke at local schools to empower students to apply to UC Davis,” said Gary May, chancellor at Davis. “His commitment to diversity and inclusion made UC Davis a better place.”

Former colleagues at Berkeley said they, too, would miss Robinson’s energy and commitment to the UC system. 

“Walter had a warm spirit that made everyone feel welcome,” said University Registrar Walter Wong, adding that Robinson extended the warmth at Berkeley not just to new students and their families, but to his staff and the broader local community, having grown up Berkeley.

Bob Jacobsen, dean of undergraduate studies, praised Robinson’s dedication to making Berkeley equitable, diverse and accessible to all.

“Through the heart and soul he put into his admissions and outreach work, Walter showed the promise of Berkeley to thousands of students,” Jacobsen said. “He helped many of them to see and believe they had the talent to attend Berkeley, and to succeed here.”

Robinson’s legacy will last, said Stephen Sutton, Berkeley’s vice chancellor for student affairs. 

“Walter was one of those leaders who made people around him better,” he said. “When he moved to UC Davis, he continued to have a broad community impact like he did here. The UC system has lost a treasured colleague.”


Read UC Davis's obituary of Walter Robinson