Baylor University Dedicates Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice
Gift from Bill and Mary Jo Robbins expands Baylor’s Speech-Language and Hearing ClinicMedia Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (March 3, 2023) – Baylor University today dedicated the Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice during an event honoring the clinic’s namesake, Mary Jo Robbins, and her husband, William K. “Bill” Robbins, of Houston, who made the lead gift in her honor. The event recognized the Robbinses, a couple who has spent their lifetimes championing excellence in health care.
The new Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice is part of a $2.5 million expansion within Baylor’s Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, which is part of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. The Mary Jo Robbins Clinic will support individuals whose lives have been affected by an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis (ASD).
“We celebrate the continued generosity of Bill and Mary Jo Robbins, and we are grateful for their support in expanding Baylor’s resources for Autism Spectrum Disorders research. This wonderful space will enhance the academic experience for our faculty and students while benefiting the community for generations to come,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “The provision of our Baylor Family has opened doors for the Robbins College through support of research, instruction and community outreach. The Robbinses’ legacy of philanthropy, joined with the contributions of fellow benefactors, has truly created a transformational legacy of care and support.”
The Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice is located on the second floor of the Cashion Academic Center and includes 12,500 square feet of new and remodeled space, expanding the previously existing capacity for providing speech, language and other services to autistic individuals. The Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic was moved to Cashion in 2016, following an anonymous gift of $10 million, and this newly dedicated expansion builds upon the momentum to propel Baylor forward as a leading institution in the nation in this field.
“The Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is a shining exemplar of the intersection of teaching, research and service within the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. The Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice further enhances and strengthens this significant union of academia and practice,” said Jason R. Carter, Ph.D., dean of Robbins College. “We are perpetually grateful to Bill and Mary Jo Robbins for their generous Christian spirits, their commitment to improving health and quality of life and their continued support of Robbins College.”
The Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice supports the Health and Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics initiatives within Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan.
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists work with occupational therapists and other specialists in ASD, while teaching the program’s students and serving clients in the following spaces:
- ASD Social Language Lab: Provides a group learning environment for language instruction and for engaging in conversation and social interactions.
- ASD Toddler Classroom: Supports children ages 2-4 through a space to develop their language and pre-literacy skills through a play-focused environment.
- ASD Preschool Classroom: Space dedicated to children ages 3-6 that provides both individualized 1-1 treatment and group speech-language therapy in a classroom-like setting.
- ASD Preschool Motor Sensory Lab: Provides clients of all ages an environment to engage their senses, including lights, colors, sounds, movement toys, deep pressure stimuli and various aromas.
- ASD Interprofessional Motor Sensory Lab: Used for interdisciplinary evaluation and collaboration for interprofessional teams.
- ASD Eye Tracking Room: State-of-the-art eye tracking equipment, providing client treatment and evaluation, as well as resourcing for faculty research.
- ASD Reading Space: Designed to provide specialized reading and written language intervention with sensory-based seating and writing options for facilitating sensory regulation during intervention.
- ASD Feeding Clinic and attached Prep Room: Spaces to support clients of all ages in group feeding intervention, as well as providing specialized equipment and facilities for preparation of foods and therapeutic materials.
A portion of the gift also funded expansion on the second floor of the Hankamer Academic Center to increase research space. In total, 13 research labs, sound booths and space for doctoral students were created through this expansion.
“Supporting excellence in health care is a calling for us both, and we are pleased that the Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice will increase access to services for autistic individuals,” said Bill Robbins at the time of the gift’s announcement in 2021. “We believe that Baylor is an excellent resource for the ASD community, and this expansion will not only increase access to resources, but it will also help to increase research and scholarly efforts to develop new and exciting therapies and approaches to care.”
Bill and Mary Jo Robbins share a deep sense of commitment to Christian missions, education and health care. Mary Jo earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas in 1975. During her 27 years in the nursing profession, she opened and managed 10 dialysis facilities in Texas. Since transitioning from the health care field, Mary Jo has continued to put the same care and energy into the mission and vision of The Robbins Foundation.
Bill received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Baylor University. He earned a Juris Doctor from Baylor Law School. He is founder and CEO of Houston-based North American Corp., which is engaged in consulting, finance, investments and oil and gas activities.
Bill and Mary Jo have supported important causes throughout the world, both personally and through The Robbins Foundation. The Robbins Foundation supports organizations in the United States, Canada, India and other countries, ranging from youth programs to post-secondary education programs, health care initiatives, the arts, entertainment, music and science.
In 2014, the Baylor Board of Regents voted to name the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences after Bill and Mary Jo Robbins in recognition of their generosity to the academic unit. Prior to that time, their leadership gift in 2011 established the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership in the Hankamer School of Business, supporting teaching, external programming and health services research. A gift to the MBA Healthcare Program in 2010 helped to position Baylor and its students as internationally recognized leaders in the fields of health policy, research and education. In 2006, the Robbinses provided the gift that supported construction of Robbins Chapel in Brooks Village, which provides students a place for everyday prayer, meditation and worship.
Baylor publicly launched the Give Light campaign on Nov. 1, 2018. To date, the campaign has raised $1.29 billion. The Campaign has seen 88,685 alumni, parents and friends give to the University’s priorities, as well as establishing 791 endowed scholarships and 44 endowed faculty positions. For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit www.baylor.edu/givelight.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT ROBBINS COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University seeks to prepare leaders in health and quality of life through science, scholarship and innovation. Together, the departments housed within the Robbins College – Communication Sciences and Disorders; Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Human Sciences and Design; Occupational Therapy; Physical Therapy; Public Health; and a number of Army-Baylor graduate programs – promote a team-based approach to transformational education and research, establishing interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving quality of life for individuals, families and communities. For more information, visit robbins.baylor.edu.