Faculty, students and staff of the School of Social Work, as well as friends of the school all over VCU, are deeply saddened at the death of doctoral candidate Robin Michele McKinney, who passed away unexpectedly on Sunday evening, February 21, 2010. A funeral service was held on Saturday, February 27th, 11:00 A.M., at Mimms Funeral Home in Richmond, VA with a post-service reception at the Scott House on the Monroe Park campus of VCU.
Funeral Remarks by Dr. Kia J. Bentley, Director
Ph.D. Program in Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University
Robin came to us in 2007 with a UVA undergrad degree and an MSW from one of our country’s top schools, some of the highest test scores we’ve seen in our program applicants, and a long and rich practice background in health and mental health settings as counselor, case manager, supervisor, outreach worker and project coordinator. We supported Robin with our most competitive scholarships, and as you have heard, she was currently a doctoral fellow in our professional organization’s highly respected Minority Fellows Program.
Two years of rigorous full-time Ph.D. coursework was behind her, successful completion of the three-day comprehensive exam process had been achieved; Robin was traveling the country giving presentations on issues of importance to the African American community; just last semester she had totally blossomed in teaching her first course, a course in social justice; she and Dr. Dungee-Anderson were collaborating on her first senior-authored publication summarizing her research on perceptions of African American clergy about domestic violence issues; and she was in the first stages of working on her dissertation. Her chair, Dr. Liz Cramer, had just put the first round of editorial feedback on her research proposal in her mail box last weekend.
And what was she going to do? Research: to help us understand disparities as they relate to African American women and intimate partner violence. How do racism, classism, unequal access to services, and stereotypes contribute to our inadequate response to this problem, resulting in dramatically more negative outcomes for African American women, as compared to others, including more severe injuries and higher death rates ? Robin was then going to use her knowledge to propose culturally relevant and responsive solutions. So you see, Robin was poised for greatness as a scholar, teacher and leader.
Most of you know the VCU school community gathered on Monday, just hours after hearing the news, to acknowledge the unbelievable loss and to be together in community, our strength and signature.
It was clear then, and is today, that in the Ph.D. program and in the School, Robin was well-loved, a mentor to other students, and a trusted friend to staff, peers and faculty. Indeed, even I was one of Robin’s 455 Facebook friends!
Tenacious, optimistic, funny, and authentic…..we will find ways to remember Robin and celebrate, not only the difference she would have made in our field, but the difference she did make in our lives.
Robin McKinney with Dr. Kia J. Bentley, Director of Ph.D. Program, at 2009 Student Welcome event