Award Profile: Dexter A. Robinson ’06

Dexter A. Robinson ’06

2022 Beech Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Dexter Robinson ’06 doesn’t have much time for small talk and doesn’t mince words. With him, you always know how he feels and where you stand.

“I first met Dex on campus at a conference for young Black men,” said Parker Martin ’16, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “He’s one of those folks who’s to the point and 100 percent genuine and honest. When I met him, it was like I’d known him forever, and that relationship has continued. He doesn’t change for anything or anyone.”

Martin, who’s studying toward his Ph.D. in public policy and sociology at the University of Michigan, said he can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Harvey Beech Young Alumni award than Robinson.

“Dex is one of the first Black men I met who was willing to challenge the status quo,” Martin said. “He’s loving and will do anything for the folks he mentors and cares for. Many of us who he mentored have been to his house, met his wife, his daughter, his parents, etc. Once you’re in his circle you’re family, and you’re extended unconditional love. And Dex is consistent. He’s been doing this for so long for so many students … and s igoing to be there for you and show up for you, and that means a lot, particularly in this day and age.”

Robinson, who earned a degree in African American Studies with a minor in coaching education, said there are many Carolina experiences that have helped shape the man he’s become. Yet he cites one in particular as being seminal: Carolina United, which he co-founded in 2005.

Named UNC Collegetown back then, Carolina United explores the meanings of diversity and leadership while providing a safe and accepting environment for UNC students to explore diversity and multiculturalism within and between themselves.

“The program’s mission is an ideal that still drives how I learn, lead and engage with people today in my personal and professional lives,” said Robinson, a leader in talent programs for Cisco Systems.

Chloe Russell, associate dean and director of the Academic Advising Program in the Office of Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts & Sciences, has worked closely with Robinson for more than a decade.

“Respected by others as a thoughtful collaborator with a tireless work ethic, Dexter has always had the reputation of providing high-quality service and opportunities to others,” she said. “With every task or opportunity, Dexter exudes strength of character, a calm demeanor, a trouble-shooting and problem-solving approach and a commitment to the present and future success of all UNC students, faculty and staff.”

When he served as an academic advisor, with a caseload of more than 700 students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, Robinson was known for providing accurate information efficiently, but, more importantly, for his encouragement during challenging times, Russell said. The students he advised were spread among 30 majors, interested in health-related professional schools and included student-athletes.

Robinson’s knack for building effective and lasting relationships with students — and guiding them to success — garnered him the student-nominated Mickel Shaw Advising Excellence Award. He was also a recipient of the 2017 University Diversity Award, Staff Award, presented by the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in conjunction with the Chancellor’s office.

Helping students, he said, is the right thing to do.

“No one becomes who they are on their own,” Robinson said. “My mentors, loved ones and others invested in me, so it is only right that I invest in others, especially students. If the expectation for generations after us is to do better than what we are doing and have done, we have to take the time to listen, meet them where they are in their process and share insight when appropriate.”

Robinson and his wife, Tiffany ’06, ’09, have one daughter, Makenna. He said it is an honor and a blessing to be recognized with the Harvey Beech Young Alumni Award.

“Harvey Beech was a trailblazer whose impact extends well beyond the Black community and Carolina,” he said. “I’m glad to know former students, colleagues and alumni believe my engagements with the Carolina community are genuine and have made an impact.”