Almost 13 years ago Phillip D. Robinson, FACHE, took what he thought was going to be an interim assignment with a health care system in Pennsylvania. While he has grown fond of the state and has enjoyed his time in the north, there was always a desire to make a permanent return to his roots in Texas.
Now, thanks to retirement and a position with the Texas A&M University School of Public Health starting in January 2023, Robinson will have that opportunity.
Robinson, who is retiring from his position as the president of Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, will return to his home state and the School of Public Health as a professor of practice and executive in residence in the Department of Health Policy and Management.
“I, and the School of Public Health, am beyond excited to have Phil join us in the Master of Health Administration Program,” Dean Shawn Gibbs said. “The executive in residence and professor of practice programs allow us to have world class executives and practitioners join our faculty. Phil Robinson, like Jack Buckley before him, is a world class health care executive and just a wonderful person.
“I know that our students will benefit greatly from having Phil in the classroom sharing his vast experiences, and I know that our faculty will benefit from his history and perspective in our discussions. We welcome Phil with open arms.”
Robinson will be working alongside John J. Buckley, Jr., MBA, FACHE, who has held the position since 2009.
“We’ve become very good friends over the years, and he has done such a fantastic job. I want to be able stay the course with many of the things that he started,” Robinson said.
Robinson earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Texas A&M in 1978, but he decided to take a different path than he originally had in mind—health administration. At the time, Texas A&M did not have a School of Public Health or a program in health administration; these would both be founded at Texas A&M in the 1990s. The native Texan packed his bags and matriculated at Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned his master’s degree in health administration, a school he said had a reputation for producing graduates who went on to top level management positions in the health care field.
“One of the things that attracted me to Washington University in Saint Louis is that back in the day, at that point in time, it seemed every CEO in the Texas Medical Center graduated from Washington U.,” Robinson said.
Upon earning his graduate degree, Robinson began his career at the Methodist Hospital in Houston. It was the start of what would turn into a 42-year career in the health care field, in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.
“I have had an amazing ride during this time and a lot of it, I really think, was due to some of my experiences at A&M, including some advice I got along the way from my faculty advisor that maybe I need to pivot away from medicine and science and do something more in a leadership space,” Robinson said. “That opened my mind that maybe I should explore other options.”
It is that advice, along with the professional experiences during his career, that moved Robinson to join the school upon his retirement.
“When I was in graduate school our favorite teachers were the retired guys who had all the war stories and I swore I would never be one of those guys, but I can’t get away,” Robinson said. “I have a lot to share, and I have a lot of experience that I want to impart and give to the younger generation of health care leaders that will help them be successful.”
Robinson is no stranger to the classroom or the School of Public Health. He has previously served as an adjunct faculty for the Master of Health Administration program at Texas A&M as well as Washington University in St. Louis and Florida Atlantic University. He also authored the book, Anticipate, Respond, Recover, about his experience with anthrax in his hospital three weeks after 9/11.
Robinson is currently a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and has served as the chair of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health Development Council for the past 10 years.
“This is the next chapter of my life, and it just seems like a really good way for me to stay active, but in a different way, and maybe have a little more influence over the future generation of health care leaders,” Robinson said. “I want to make sure our graduates are in the very best position to get great jobs and to lead in the profession. I want to give back to the profession and to Texas A&M.”