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July 9, 2001

Former student creates Robins research fund

By Eric Rangus


Last fall, Gay Robins, chair of art history, got a call from former student Brian Winterfeldt. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence; she and Winterfeldt had remained friends since his graduation from Emory in 1994.

His news, though, went far beyond small talk.

Although Winterfeldt had majored in art history, he did not pursue a career in the humanities.
Instead he attended and graduated from law school and was now practicing with the Washington, D.C., firm of Dow, Lohnes and Albertson.

Still, he kept his interest in art and art history. To honor Robins, whom he called a true role model, Winterfeldt planned to create the Gay Robins Fund for Egyptological Research.

In January, the fund became a reality as the first money from Winterfeldt’s $10,000 pledge over the next three years came in. The money comes with no restrictions, and Robins is free to use it in whatever way she sees fit.

“To have a research fund is something you dream of but never think will happen,” Robins said.

“I wanted to give back to someone who has served as such an incredible role model for me,” Winterfeldt said. “Dr. Robins stands out for so many reasons. She is an amazing scholar and an incredible teacher. But also she is caring honest and hard working. She always took time from her intensely busy schedule to meet not only with me, but all of her students. Since Dr. Robins did so much for me, I wanted to do something for her.”

John Ingersoll, director of development for Emory College, helped Winterfeldt, who has so far donated $2,000 out of his own pocket, create the fund. Winterfeldt has not sought outside donations but said he might in the future.

“I think it is extremely important that academics be patronized,” Winterfeldt said. “Even at a school as wealthy as Emory, professors are still paid relatively small salaries—particularly in art history—and given small research funds. The cost of scholarship is high, particularly when you are studying ancient cultures that require a great deal of travel to properly research.”

Indeed, one of the first things Robins used the funding for was developing photographs from a trip she took with about 20 others (including Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Bill Fox and his wife) to Egypt this past spring. The trip was organized by the Association of Emory Alumni and travelers were primarily Emory graduates.

Robins recently stepped down as chair of the art history department. She will teach in the fall, then take leave for all of 2002, when she hopes to return to her “neglected” research.

“This is where extra funding will really be helpful,” Robins said. “Once you start researching there are all sorts of expenses.”


Back to Emory Report July 9, 2001