Robertson’s main focus was students and their well-being, serving as their advocate.
“His passion for excellence was apparent in every aspect of his job,” said E.J. “Jere” Pederson, special assistant at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. “The seven years that he devoted to the students at the college will set the tone for excellence for many years to come.”
Above, students, faculty and staff pay their respects at a candlelight vigil for Dr. Robertson on Dec. 10, 2012.
Robertson truly embraced the mission and goals of the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, said Srinath Palakurthi, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences and director of graduate studies at the college. “A real tribute to him will be to sustain the program with high quality and compassion,” Palakurthi said.
Gene Castillo, Pharm.D., Class of 2010 from Kingsville, said Robertson supported him throughout his learning process. “He was an advocate for students and I felt that in my pre-pharmacy days. I am benefiting from him today. He was always looking out for the best interest of the student.”
Robertson did not take anything for granted, said Maria de León, director of admissions. “He made us feel like we were the most important person, whether it was a short or lengthy interaction,” she said.
“He made me want to be the best professional.”
“He was a student advocate. Big or small, he would address our issues,” said Chandni Patel, who is on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board with the Texas A&M System. “He never made it seem like it was a petty issue and he did it with great style.”
When second-year professional student pharmacist Pamela Bosse’s mother was very ill, Robertson helped her cope with the stress of class work while caring for her welfare. “He always did what he could to help me. He would call to check on her condition,” said the student from Sugarland, Texas.
Though frail, her mother attended the White Coat Ceremony, and Robertson took special care of her. “He got her a reserved parking spot so she didn’t have to walk too far,” Bosse said. “He sat her in front of us so she could see me and then, he arranged for us to take a family picture at the ceremony.”
“He would accommodate students especially during tough times,” said Mahmoud Sabawi, a member of the committee that organized the candlelight vigil on Dec. 10 in Robertson’s honor.
“At the beginning of this semester, my dad was sick,” said Leila Samadi, second-year professional student pharmacist. “I had a lot to deal with at the beginning of the semester and I turned to the one person I knew who would genuinely listen and know exactly what to say. As soon as I sat down and started telling him what was happening with my dad, I started crying. Then I told him, ‘Dr. Robertson, I promise I went over what I was going to say to you ten times so that I wouldn't cry in front of you.’ He just said, ‘Don't you just hate that?’ and I smiled for the first time in what felt like an eternity.”
When students were preparing a video competition, Robertson helped them. “Without him, we wouldn’t have had the video,” said Patel, a fourth-year professional student pharmacist of Sugarland, Texas. “He worked countless hours on his own time helping us. He taught me leadership at a whole different level through the project. More than 20 students participated in the video.”
Students had a chance to meet Robertson even if they were not admitted to the college. Several students who went through the interview process sent messages of condolence after meeting him once.
Robertson focused on giving students the best service possible. “He set the tone for this college and we hear it from students,” de León said. “Students report back to us that they hadn’t heard anything from other colleges,” she said.
“I received messages from students who aren’t even here,” said Christine Carney, third-year professional student pharmacist from Katy, Texas. “They remember him from the interview, just his presence, professionalism and the way he carried himself.”
Throughout the interview process to enter the professional school, students remembered him as an encourager. “He gave me a reason to want to come to the pharmacy school,” second-year student Sabawi said. “He made me want to be the best professional.”
Robertson’s delivery was flawless, Dave Kanwar, Pharm.D., Class of 2010 of McAllen, remembered. “His presentation mattered, it was so well rehearsed and it made an impression on me,” he said.