SALEM, Va. -William Bernard Robertson recently received Roanoke College's Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award for his commitment to education and his advocacy of mental retardation awareness. Robertson, a Roanoke native who is a lifelong philanthropist and educator, inspires students to gain the highest levels of achievement and to realize the joys of giving back to their community. The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Contribution to Education Award recognizes outstanding commitment and work in the field of education. The recipient is selected by the MSCI steering committee through a process that seeks to identify a person whose life echoes Ms. Copenhaver's passion for teaching and learning.
Robertson graduated from Bluefield State College in 1956 with a degree in secondary education and in 1959 with a degree in elementary education. He earned a Master's degree in educational administration from Radford University in 1965.
Robertson has served as Roanoke's Elementary Supervisor, and in 1965 was named Outstanding Young Educator by the Roanoke Jaycees. In 1966, Robertson became the first African-American member of the Roanoke Jaycees Chapter, selecting mental retardation as his project area. He also became the first African-American to serve on the executive staff for a Virginia governor, working in minority and consumer affairs for Linwood Holton. In recognition of his achievement in mental retardation advocacy, President Richard Nixon appointed Robertson to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation in July 1970.
Robertson also was appointed by President Gerald Ford as the Director of the Peace Corps for Kenya and the Seychelles. While in Africa, Robertson organized the first Special Olympics in Kenya and founded the Simba Chapter of Jaycees. He also held positions such as Assistant Director to the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, co-chair of the Federal Task Force on Disabilities, and as a member of the Take Pride in America Committee. After retiring in 1995, Robertson worked with Cheer, Inc. to donate over one million new books and teacher training material to schools and libraries in South Africa before returning to teaching in Tampa in 2002.
Roanoke College, the country's second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast." Roanoke's 1,970 students represent 40 states across the U.S. and 26 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.