Richard Robinson (chief executive)

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Richard Robinson
CEO Richard Robinson 2011.jpg
Robinson in 2011
Maurice Richard Robinson Jr.

(1937-05-15)May 15, 1937
DiedJune 5, 2021(2021-06-05) (aged 84)
Education Harvard College
St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Columbia University
OccupationChief executive, educator
Employer Scholastic Corporation
Helen V. Benham
(m. 1986;div. 2003)

Maurice Richard Robinson Jr. (May 15, 1937 June 5, 2021) was an American business executive and educator. From 1975 until his death in 2021, Robinson was the chief executive officer of Scholastic Corporation, a publishing company founded by his father Maurice Robinson. Robinson was noted for bringing many book franchises towards younger readers such as Harry Potter and Captain Underpants . [1]


Early life

Robinson was born in 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Florence née Liddell and Maurice R. Robinson. [2] [3] [4] [5] He was raised in Manhattan. [6] He was educated at Harvard College and later at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, in England, and at Columbia University to be a high school teacher. [2]

He began his career as a high school English teacher in Evanston, Illinois. [2] [7] In the mid-1960s, he began working at Scholastic Corporation. [8]

Business career

In 1971, Robinson became a board member of Scholastic. [9] In 1974, he became President of Scholastic and CEO a year later. [2] He was elected to the position of chairman of the board in 1982. [2]

During his tenure as Scholastic CEO, he oversaw the company's financial struggles and successes. [8] He saw the company's success of the Harry Potter series and battled censors of Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and Alex Gino’s George as inappropriate for younger readers. [8] The New York Times credits Robinson for making it possible for the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games novel franchises to reach the American public. [1]

Robinson's tenure also oversaw an overhaul of historic changes, whether the rise of digital media or the increased emphasis on diversity and scrutiny of the past. [10] In 2016, Scholastic and Robinson faced controversy over the publication of a picture story titled A Birthday Cake for George Washington , which depicted one of Washington's slaves. [10] The book was pulled by Scholastic after widespread criticism. [10]

In response to his goal for Scholastic to be informed of the changing culture, Robinson said "We are dealing with issues like global warming, racial inequality in a way that doesn’t polarize the issue but gives points of views on both sides and is a balanced neutral position but not in a sense of being bland". [7]

Personal life

Robinson was divorced from Helen V. Benham, who worked at Scholastic as a cultural director. [11] [12] They had two children. [12] They were married from 1986 until 2003. [5] He lived in New York City and owned a condo in Greenwich Village until 2016. [13] He stated that James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was a personal favorite and inspiration during his tenure as Scholastic CEO. [6]

He died on June 5, 2021 while on vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, aged 84. [8] [5] The cause was said to be either a stroke or a heart attack. [5]

Awards and honors

Robinson received an honorary National Book Award for his contributions to the literary community. [8] PEN America noted him for his contributions to free expression in literature and publishing. [8]

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  4. Hamersly, Lewis Randolph; Leonard, John W.; Mohr, William Frederick; Knox, Herman Warren; Holmes, Frank R.; Downs, Winfield Scott (1938). "Who's who in New York City and State".
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  6. 1 2 "ON MY...BOOKSHELF; RICHARD ROBINSON". The New York Times. August 22, 1999. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  7. 1 2 "Richard Robinson, Longtime CEO Of Scholastic, Dies at 84". Deadline. June 6, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
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  11. "SEC Filing". Investor. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  12. 1 2 "Richard Robinson, longtime Scholastic CEO, dead at 84". The Seattle Times. June 6, 2021.
  13. "Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson Lists Devonshire House Condo for $9.25M". Observer. February 8, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2021.