Robin Rich-Coates Retires After 34 Years at ESCC


Robin Rich-Coates sums up her love for teaching by using the word “opportunity”.  In her 40 year career, she has strived and succeeded in providing students with opportunities for personal and professional growth.  Thirty-four of her 40 years have been at Eastern Shore Community College where she has promoted student engagement in the classroom and out, helping students find their passion and grow into productive members of society.  Her genuine love for teaching is reciprocated by her students who hold her in such high regard.

As an Associate Professor of Biology and Chemistry at ESCC, Robin has never turned away from additional roles beyond the classroom.  She has also been Assistant to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs along with countless other roles both at the college and in the community.  She earned a BS in Biology from Madison College (now James Madison University) and a MS in Human Genetics from the Medical College of Virginia, so her dedication and love for the annual ESCC Science Fair is not surprising.  She was responsible for expanding the fair to K-12 and has been a driving force in its popularity with students in both counties.

Much of Robin’s teaching has been focused on environmental education.  She is an elected official serving on the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conversation District Board since 1990.  During the nineties, she was instrumental in starting the popular Arbor Day event where free trees have been distributed annually through the Department of Forestry and local nurseries.  After attending an event in Maryland, Rich-Coates was inspired to start the state’s first “Envirothon” on the Eastern Shore.

With a career encompassing work at VIMS, Central High School, and ESCC, Robin smiles no brighter than when she talks about her work with Phi-Theta-Kappa with whom she has served as Faculty Advisor for 28 years.  It has been an eventful tenure where she has also served on the International Honors Council and as a Faculty Scholar at the International Honors Institute numerous times. Robin has won many regional and national advisor awards. She has been the Director of the Virginia Regional Honors in Action Academy for the past 25 years. She also served as the Associate Regional Coordinator of the Virginia/West Virginia Region from 2014-2016, when she was named the Regional Coordinator. She was also named one of the top 100 Phi Theta Kappa “Visionaries” in 2018, the Phi Theta Kappa Centennial Year.

Having been voted Teacher of the Year three times, and the recipient of the VCCS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Robin Rich-Coates has certainly set the bar high for the teaching profession.  Her dedication to her students, the college, and the community, is visible every day.  Whether she is preparing her famous chili for the annual Heritage Celebration, steering her students through lab projects, or volunteering on numerous committees, Robin’s obvious passion for what she does always shines through.

Everyone at Eastern Shore Community College (and the community in general) are unified in offering a sincere “thank you” and a “job well done” to Robin on the eve of her retirement this summer.  Celebrating 40 years of teaching, and a 40th wedding anniversary with her husband Curtis in 2018, an exciting new chapter awaits.  There is a Japanese proverb that reads “Better than a thousand days of diligent study, is one day with a great teacher.”  We are thankful for many such days with Robin.