FHSU college named in honor of W.R. and Yvonne Robbins
HAYS – The Kansas Board of Regents in September approved naming Fort Hays State University’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
At a dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the honor for the Great Bend Couple was made official.
In addition, a section of the building was named the Robbins Banking Institute.
Robbins, an alumnus from Fort Hays State University, and his wife, Yvonne, are longtime, devoted supporters of the university. He is chair of Farmers Bank and Trust, Great Bend, which owns and manages seven locations in central Kansas and two in Johnson County.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in education, W.R. Robbins spent two years teaching math and science before moving into the banking industry. In 1971, he bought his first bank, Farmers State Bank of Albert, which comprised $4 million in assets at the time. Presently, Farmers Bank and Trust has assets of about $775 million, nine locations and 110 employees.
During the past 50 years, Robbins has been actively involved with Fort Hays State University in many capacities and served in a variety of executive board positions, including president of the FHSU Foundation. In 2000, he was selected as chair of FHSU’s $30 million Centennial Capital Campaign.
When asked what advice he would offer students just beginning their college careers, Robbins said, “Set your sights on what you want and combine it with passion and commitment.”
“Mr. Robbins grew a small-town, single-facility bank into a chain of rural banks. He represents the essence of entrepreneurial excellence,” said President Mirta M. Martin. “From humble beginnings as a child growing up in central Kansas, to the CEO and chairman of a multi-million dollar banking corporation, his life’s journey has certainly been an example of the importance of Kansas work ethic and values.”
In addition, the Fort Hays State University Foundation and the Alumni Association share a building near Gross Memorial Coliseum and the Hwy 183 Bypass at the southwest edge of campus.
The Robbins Center is also named in honor of W.R. Bill and Yvonne Robbins. Bill Robbins served as the chair of the Centennial Campaign which raised $4.5 million in private funds for the facility.
Paying a visit to the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee Thursday morning, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), told those gathered at Tele-Communications Inc. that he hates to be introduced as being from Washington, D.C.
“That is the last place I want to say that I’m from,” he joked. Moran was born in Great Bend and grew up in Plainville.
Moran made a stop in Great Bend en route to Fort Hays State University in Hays for the dedication of the FHSU College of Business and Entrepreneurship being named in honor of Great Bend residents W.R. and Yvonne Robbins. “Their support of Fort Hays has been tremendous.”
And, the college itself is worthy of note, he said. “What happens at Fort Hays are some of the biggest contribution factors for the success of Western Kansas.”
The veteran lawmaker also took time to address issues near to his heart.
“Veterans deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs that is worthy of their service and sacrifice for our nation,” said Moran, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. When the Senate and House came together to pass the Choice Act, there was a sense of hope among veterans, their families and the American people that it was the start of dramatic change at the VA.
However, “months later, many veterans are still unable to access the care they need because of numerous problems with Choice Act implementation.” This law allows vets to receive VA benefits for using their local health care providers if they live more than 40 miles from a VA center.
This not only helps the veterans in rural areas, but is also beneficial to the local hospitals, clinics and doctors by keeping that money at home, he said.
There are those in the VA who truly care about veterans, but the agency is weighed down by bureaucracy, he said. “If you want evidence that big government doesn’t work, the VA is an example.”
It is clear the nation is not prepared for the servicemen and women who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and is capable of caring for our aging veterans – particularly those from the Vietnam era – as we promised we would and as every American knows we should. “Unfortunately, common sense is not prevailing and the VA continues to operate in the same bureaucratic fashion,” Moran said.
Moran also recently introduced the Accountability to Safeguard Veterans from Violent Crimes Act of 2016. The legislation would cut pensions earned by certain VA providers who are convicted of a crime of violence against a veteran. “Those who violate the trust of our veterans must be held accountable.
“The notion that taxpayers would fund the benefits of individuals who have threatened or harmed our nation’s heroes is unacceptable,” he said. The VA has made excuses time and time again without firing those who have mistreated our veterans, and this legislation would make certain these individuals aren’t able to walk away with the same benefits as those who honorably served our veterans.
Following multiple allegations of sexual abuse in the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System against former Physician Assistant Mark Wisner, Sen. Moran has been pressing the VA for answers about their background checks and hiring practices. Wisner has been charged with aggravated sexual battery, aggravated criminal sodomy and misdemeanor sexual battery and faces numerous federal lawsuits stemming from his actions while as an employee of the VA.
“We’re at a chamber coffee to focus on local businesses,” Moran said. To this end, entrepreneurship and promoting start-up businesses are crucial.
“Anyone should be able to go to their barn, garage or basement and pursue their American dream and put people to work,” he said. However, the tax code should be friendly to these efforts and the educational system should be geared to prepare students for the workforce.
One of the biggest challenges facing business owners is finding qualified employees.
Moran is seeking re-election in 2016. He will face Democrat Patrick Wiesner and Libertarian Robert Garrard in the Nov. 8 general election.
He previously represented the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2011 and the Kansas State Senate from 1989 to 1997.
Moran was born in 1954 in Great Bend, KS, but was raised in Plainville, KS. After graduating from Plainville High School, Moran went on to earn his B.S. at the University of Kansas in 1976, and his J.D. at Kansas University School of Law in 1981. Moran has also worked as a bank officer.
He serves on several committees, including: Indian Affairs; Appropriations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce Science and Transportation; and Veterans Affairs.