He knew my name.
“As with many of the students at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, my interaction with Dr. Robertson began when applying to the college,” said Alex Patlovany, a fourth-year professional student pharmacist from Houston. “While waiting in the fishbowl upstairs before the interviews, my fellow applicants and I were all clearly nervous — an expected state in which to be. Enter Dr. Robertson, exuding what we’d later come to know as his constant confidence and class, joking that he was the scariest person we’d meet that day.” Robertson put the students at ease. “He made the interview process that much easier to get through, and it set the pulse for what I expected attending the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy would be like,” Patlovany said.
“He called me for my interview and we talked for 30 minutes,” said Carney, who is originally from Slidell, La., and moderated the candlelight vigil. “We were both from Louisiana so we talked about the food and area. He told me not to be nervous about the interview, but to act like I did on the phone with him and I’d just be fine. He changed my life forever.”
Students said Robertson always knew their name. “He made it a point to know each student. He had this way about him that I can’t explain,” Bosse said.
Robertson’s door remained open for students. Patel, who graduated with a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Houston, said she was experiencing personal problems before she made it to pharmacy school and Robertson shared the story of his journey to encourage and motivate her. “He would remember details about you,” Patel said. “Many students at other schools cannot plop down to talk to a dean. He wasn’t just a mentor; he was a counselor.”
Kanwar, a pharmacy manager, said Robertson would not give praise lightly. “When he said he was proud of me, I beamed. When I was in trouble, which was once or twice, he always ended on a positive. I felt bad if I disappointed him, not that I was in trouble,” Kanwar said.
Elaine Demps, Ph.D., director of instructional technology for the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, said Robertson’s relationships were customized to each person he met. “He was so funny. He really lived, lived an adventurous life.”
“He was a man with a wealth of knowledge, kind heart, sense of humor, and impeccable taste and superior perfection.”
Demps recalled a time when Robertson shared an experience he had assisting an international student. A student athlete at the University of Louisiana at Monroe went home to South Korea and could not return to the U.S. because of her student visa issues. Robertson flew to South Korea to speak with government officials to persuade them to allow her to return to college.
Because of his vast experience, Robertson could make a quick decision in a rational way and had a terrific perspective on issues. He could read people well. “He had high expectations of people,” Demps said. “He wouldn’t hesitate to let them know when they did not perform up to par, but he was always generous with praise when they deserved it.”
Day in and day out, Robertson always made people smile. “He was a man with a wealth of knowledge, kind heart, sense of humor, and impeccable taste and superior perfection,” said his administrative assistant, Christie Knudsen. “He was a fair individual and always looked at both sides before making a decision. His love and devotion to his profession and the students were admirable.”
Robertson was highly respected and feared by students. “He was never judgmental,” said Mary Chavez, Pharm.D., professor and chair of pharmacy practice. “He challenged them. He was stern but fair and made them say how they were going to remedy themselves.”