Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Tax Prof Mildred Robinson, UVA's First Black Female Faculty Member, To Retire


Professor Mildred Robinson Set To Retire:

Professor Mildred Robinson, a groundbreaking tax law instructor whose scholarship and community service have emphasized equity, will teach her last class at the University of Virginia School of Law at the end of this semester. She will retire this spring after almost 35 years on the faculty.

Robinson was UVA Law’s first African American female tenured professor. She was hired with tenure in 1985 from Florida State University.

At FSU, she received the President’s Award for teaching and served as associate dean for academic affairs. Having earned her J.D. from the Howard University School of Law and her LL.M. from Harvard Law School, she brought her expertise in federal income tax, state and local tax, and trusts and estates here. Her students have routinely given her courses rave reviews.

“One of my greatest, and perhaps most fortuitous, decisions in law school was to register for Mildred Robinson’s Federal Income Tax,” said Kieran D. Hartley ’14, a California employment lawyer with experience in bankruptcy matters. “The connection I felt was instant and enduring.” He went on to take her other available classes as well.

“Her approach to tax law is deeply theoretical, yet immensely accessible in practical applications,” Hartley said. “That approach constantly challenged me to understand why we structure tax law in its labyrinthine form in this country, and why this may be good or bad.”

Robinson has been teaching for 47 years. When she began her academic career in Florida, it was rare to be a woman teaching law, much less an African American woman.

“There was only one black woman in the legal academy [at a historically white institution] at that point — Joyce Hughes; she was at Minnesota and is now at Northwestern,” Robinson said. “It was my first job. I went in totally not knowing what to expect, except that I wanted to teach tax. I was very interested in tax by virtue of my exposure at Harvard.”

Robinson’s mentor in tax law was Harvard professor Stanley S. Surrey, who coined the term “tax expenditure” while serving as assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy. Surrey was among the first academics to research the fiscal impact on the government of tax breaks and loopholes. ...

Robinson will retire as the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law. She plans to wrap up her scholarly work in the spring. While she may still write op-eds and the like, retirement will be mostly about family. She will relocate to Philadelphia to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

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Congratulations, Professor Robinson! Well deserved.

Posted by: TS | Dec 7, 2019 3:16:49 PM

Keep blazing trails, Mildred! UVA Law won’t be the same without you!

Posted by: Ruth Mason | Dec 6, 2019 5:21:07 AM