Robinson’s talents benefit Kansas

The announcement last month that Reggie Robinson, who has served most recently as president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, will join the faculty of the Washburn law school and direct a new public policy program there is a major triumph for Washburn.

While I realize that such a statement coming from a Kansas University law professor may sound treasonous, there is no disputing that Reggie is one of the most talented and loyal educators in Kansas and will grace and honor any faculty on which he sits.

Reggie has had a distinguished career both in Kansas and in Washington. Reggie began his teaching career here at KU where he was an exceptionally gifted teacher. He was popular both with students and faculty. Unfortunately for us, the siren call of Washington and the opportunity to work for then-Attorney General Janet Reno seduced him to move to the Beltway. His time in Washington was extremely successful and, eventually, he became a key and trusted assistant to Reno and served at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Justice.

As the Clinton administration was winding down, a combination of luck and Chancellor Robert Hemingway’s eye for talent brought Reggie back to Lawrence and KU. The chancellor and Reggie met for the first time at a KU Alumni Association party in Washington. They hit it off immediately. When he returned to Lawrence, the chancellor called me and asked me what I thought of Reggie. I told him that I thought he was terrific. The chancellor then told me that he had offered Reggie a job on his staff and asked whether I thought we’d want Reggie to teach a course at the law school as well. Of course, I said “yes.”

Over the next few years, Reggie was a ubiquitous figure around campus, rushing from meeting to meeting, solving crises with wit and grace. At the law school, he again became one of our most popular instructors as well as a valued colleague. Once, again, however, Reggie heard the call to public service and became president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents.

His service to the regents and the state of Kansas was of the highest importance as he put his considerable persuasive talents to the task of helping the regents maintain state funding for the regents universities.

And now Reggie returns to educating Kansas lawyers. It is a great gain for Washburn. I have no doubt that he will be a welcome addition to their faculty and that their students and the school as a whole will benefit from his great talents. To be honest, I envy them. Although I wish he were coming home to KU, I congratulate him on his new position and can only hope that he might return to KU sometime in the future.

— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas University School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.