Hats off to a long career

Dr. Robinson retires after 10 years at UW-Whitewater

Brenda Echeverria, Arts & Rec Editor

Small town, check. Two-story Victorian home, check. A career full of films, check. Like crossing items off a list, Linda Robinson has created the perfect life she always wanted.

After a long, successful teaching career, Robinson is finally set to retire this year. Although it may seem like she has had her life planned out all along, that hasn’t always been the case.

Robinson began her career in law and was a professor at Georgia State University College of Law for 12 years until she decided to go back to school to pursue her real passion.

“I got to thinking, I really do like teaching, but I’m not sure if I want to teach law the rest of my life, I’d rather teach something that I really like,” said Robinson.  “So then I thought what do I really like, and what I really like is movies.”

Robinson said her father was a big movie buff who had grown up going to the movies in the 30s and 40s, and she recalls always watching classic Hollywood films with her family.

“My father infused me with that love of old movies,” Robinson said. “He and I really bonded over them.”

So when Robinson was accepted at the University of Southern California for a master’s in cinema studies, she knew that was what she wanted. But it was still a big step.

“I had some moments before and after I arrived in California from Atlanta where I went through a stage where I kept thinking ‘what have I done’,” said Robinson.

It all worked out, and she eventually moved on to get her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in cinema studies as well.

“But by then I’d had it with big city living. I wanted to be in a small town,” said Robinson.

After being born in Cincinnati and growing up in Columbia, South Carolina and living in Atlanta for 20 years, two years in LA and five years in Chicago, she just knew she wanted to try something different.

“My ideal setup was that I wanted to move to a small town, buy a two story Victorian house that was close enough that I could walk to work and preferably in the Midwest,” said Robinson.

And she got it.

Robinson accepted a job offer from UW-W in 2009 and has been teaching cinema and history courses ever since.

Since then, Robinson’s love for films has not only been a huge part of her career, but also her life.

As a film historian, she specifically wanted a historic home so that she could have history around her all the time.

Films like “Meet Me in St. Louis,” which is based in 1903, and “The Music Man,” which is set in 1912, really inspired her from a young age to appreciate history and made her want to see things from that time period.

“I just decided that this was the prettiest time there ever was, and I wish I could live in that pretty time. Since I can’t I’m going to replicate it as best as I can,” said Robinson.

Everyone who knows Robinson knows that she loves hats, but people may not know that her love for hats was also influenced by films.

She has always loved hats, but watching the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral” really inspired her to wear them.

“Once I settled in here, I thought, okay, I have always wanted to wear hats. I’m finally settled in to this lovely little town in this life that I love. Now it’s time for me to finally start wearing my hats,” Robinson said.

She estimates she has about 20 summer and 20 winter hats.

Soon after settling into Whitewater, Robinson also became an active member of the community. She joined the Whitewater Historical Society and is now a part of the board of directors. She is also the president of the Emerson Club, one of the three women’s clubs that make up the Whitewater Federation of Women’s Clubs.

“Everything just fell into place,” said Robinson.

President of the Whitewater Historical Society, Carol Cartwright, thinks it is obvious that Robinson truly cares about her community and enjoys being involved.

She thinks it is often rare to find someone so civic-minded and who wants to do good in the community like Robinson.

Cartwright said Robinson has had a great impact on the institutions she is involved in and that they make Whitewater what it is today.

“UW-Whitewater’s loss is going to be I think our gain because she’s going to have more time to spend at the historical society and probably also with the Bassett House,” said Cartwright.

“And that is going to be great for us. We’re happy about that, but I know she was an excellent professor, and they’re going to miss her at UW-Whitewater.”

After 10 years of teaching at UW-W, Robinson said she is most proud of having the opportunity to get students to look at history and cinema in a different way.

“Broadening students’ horizons to me has always been the most exciting and fun part about teaching,” said Robinson.

Robinson said she will miss students but not grading their papers.

During retirement, she plans to travel, publish scholarly work, write fiction, binge-watch Game of Thrones and maybe even try rock climbing.