(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University recalls the legacy of Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson, who passed away recently, as she is celebrated as a pioneering educator who earned the distinction of Dean Emeritus after 60 years of service to the institution and the College of Liberal Arts.
JSU President Thomas K. Hudson paid homage to the celebrated stalwart.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Dollye Robinson, Dean Emeritus for the College of Liberal Arts. Like many Jacksonians, Dr. Robinson served as my dean during my matriculation at JSU. She was an invaluable talent and resource to her students and our University,” Hudson said.
He added, “Dr. Robinson will always be remembered and celebrated as a higher-education icon, trailblazer, and breaker of glass ceilings. Her tremendous impact on JSU will resound infinitely. We extend our hearts and prayers to her family and all who loved her.”
In addition to Hudson, Robinson molded generations of leaders.
After she earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Jackson College and also a bachelor’s, two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, Robinson became an assistant band director at a high school in Brookhaven. That paved the way for the beginning of her career at Jackson College in 1952 as the assistant band director and instructor of music.
Over time, she served in several leadership positions. In fact, she became chair of the Division of Fine Arts in the Department of Music (1962-1983), making her the first female in that role. Eventually, she was elevated to associate dean of the College of Liberal Studies (now College of Liberal Arts). Later, she would serve as the dean from 1983-2012.
In a podcast interview in 2019 with Mississippi Moments, she reflected on growing up two blocks from where JSU is now. Her musical family inspired her to become a band director. Reportedly, as a music major at Jackson College in the 1940s, she joined the Duke Otis Orchestra. She recalled the challenges of being a female and first-trumpet player in an all-male dance band.
Her successes continued as Robinson initiated degree programs for the Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Music Performance and Master of Music Education. She’s also being hailed for supervising the initial accreditation for the Department of Music, Department of Art and for the university in 1971 with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Throughout her decades of services, Robinson led significant progress at the university. Her accomplishments included designing and supervising the construction of the F.D. Hall Music Hall and providing significant input in the design of the College of Liberal Arts building, which is named in her honor.
For all that she achieved, Robinson earned emeritus status in 2012. Her memory will be forever etched in the minds and hearts of those she touch.