Posted September 12, 2007

Alumna's gift is largest ever to Temple Athletics, opera

Ann Robinson
Photo courtesy Ann McKernan Robinson
Ann McKernan Robinson

With an unprecedented gift, a Temple University alumna has transformed the worlds of sports and performing arts at her alma mater.

Ann McKernan Robinson, a 1958 Temple graduate, and her husband Armand I. Robinson have pledged a total of $2 million to Temple — $1.1 million to create a fund for the Temple women's field hockey program and $900,000 to create a fund for graduate scholarships in Voice and Opera at Temple's Boyer College of Music and Dance.

The Robinsons’ gift is simultaneously the largest single gift ever received by Temple Athletics, the largest ever received by the Voice and Opera program and the second-largest ever received by Boyer.

"Temple is forever grateful to the Robinsons," said Temple President Ann Weaver Hart. "Both athletics and the performing arts have always been a source of energy, enrichment and joy for the university. To affect one realm for generations of future Temple students is a great achievement; to affect both is extraordinary."


Although the creation of the Ann McKernan Field Hockey Endowment Fund and the Ann McK. and Armand I. Robinson Opera Scholarship Fund is targeted to benefit specific programs at Temple, the Robinsons hope their gift will have cascading effects that spread across the entire university.

"I hope to be on the sidelines when Temple field hockey returns to the final four, and I hope to be sitting in the audience when another Temple voice and opera graduate performs at the Met," Ann said. "But most of all, I hope that our gift will get other Temple alums to think about the assets they have and the legacies they could leave."

Born just northwest of Philadelphia in Swedeland, Pa. — then a small, rural town — Ann graduated from the Academy of the Sisters of Mercy in Gwynedd Valley before leaving for Temple, where she hoped to prepare herself for a career in coaching and teaching. At Temple, she came under the influence of legendary Temple field hockey coach and USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame member Anne Volp, for whom she played for four years. During Robinson's years on the varsity field hockey team, the Owls finished with a combined record of 23-7-2, including an undefeated season in 1954, her freshman year. She also was active in lacrosse and basketball. (She was captain of the lacrosse team and co-captain of the basketball team in her senior year.) Among other campus leadership positions, Ann was president of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority.

"Playing field hockey at Temple for Mrs. V meant so much to me," Ann said. "I learned life's lessons — the value of hard work and how to win gracefully."

After graduating in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in physical education from Temple's College of Education, Ann taught and coached field hockey at the University of Pennsylvania and Chestnut Hill College, and held positions as an executive assistant at McCall Corporation and Lever Bros., Inc. In 1973, she took a job at the United States Postal Service's Management Intern Program. Nearly 30 years later, she retired from USPS as vice president and consumer advocate.

Although Ann remembers her mother tuning in to Saturday opera performances on the family radio, the Robinsons' love of opera came later in life. Witnessing a production of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites by the award-winning Temple University Opera Theater in 2004 sparked the Robinsons' interest in voice and opera at Temple.

"It blew my socks off," Ann said. "We have been very impressed by the level of performance. Now I come back to campus each fall to see a new production."

A published poet, Ann lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Armand, a retired lawyer and publisher, and their cat, Alice.

Facts about Temple field hockey Facts about opera at the Boyer College of Music and Dance
Go to the Temple field hockey web site Go to the Voice and Opera web site

Coach: Amanda Janney, third year, 24-13 overall record, Atlantic 10 co-Coach of the Year in 2005

2006 record: 13-7, best record since 1991

Last NCAA tournament appearance: 1992

Last NCAA Final Four appearance: 1984

Accomplished alumna: Jane Catanzaro-Delaney, all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, 1991 winner of the Honda Award as the nation's outstanding women's collegiate field hockey player, four-time All America selection, two-time Atlantic 10 Player of the Year

Number of Temple alumnae in USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame: 6

Voice and Opera department chair: Christine Anderson

Recent faculty recruit: world-renowned baritone William Stone

Number of first-place awards won by Temple University Opera Theater productions in the National Opera Association competitions: three in the last four years

Accomplished alumni: Hugh Panaro, who has performed lead roles in The Phantom of the Opera, Lestat, Les Misérables and other Broadway productions; Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano who has performed at New York City Opera, Atlanta Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago and houses across Europe