By Bailey Basham
Over the course of his career, Norm Robinson was a marine, a police officer for Metro Nashville and the Trevecca director of security. In January, students at Trevecca will begin a new semester without him patrolling campus for the first time in 25 years.
Robinson will be retiring in December of this year after being at Trevecca since 1991 when he came to Trevecca as a 40-year-old freshman.
“I’ve been at Trevecca 25 years exactly. I started in December of 1991, and I’ll retire here shortly in Dec. of 2016. I served under three presidents: Dr. Adams, Dr. Reed and now Dr. Boone. I actually came to school here when I was 40 in 1991 with not one credit, and I graduated with a BA in 1996. I was the first graduating class to be under the new heading of Trevecca Nazarene University rather than Trevecca Nazarene College,” said Robinson.
When Robinson first enrolled at Trevecca, security work was not what he had in mind.
“I worked security at night—my shift was 6 p.m.–2 a.m—and I went to school in the day time. I came to Trevecca to learn about religion, and I majored in pastoral ministry and minored in sociology. I held a district preaching license for a year. When I graduated with that degree, I wasn’t planning on staying here, but about the time I graduated in 1996, the security director who was here then announced he was retiring. I met with Dean Harris, and I was accepted as the director of security. It was actually called the evening coordinator back then,” said Robinson.
Over the last 25 years, Robinson has witnessed many changes at Trevecca, from the building of the library and the roundabout, the privatization of campus and the decline in pranks from students.
“When I first got here, there was a phone booth where the Jesus statue is now. That’s how public [campus was],” said Robinson. “Students used to prank a lot more, and they were really innovative. I remember chasing a person around campus in the 90s, and I never did catch him, but he looked a lot like Matt Spraker. He knows I’ve chased him some. We were talking about it one day, and he said, ‘Yeah I remember the days when Norm was running me all over campus, and he never caught me,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah I knew that was Matt Spraker.’”
Robinson said pranks at Trevecca were a regular occurrence years ago.
“One year, the girls in Georgia put their underwear in all the trees in the quad. They were hanging up all over, and we had to spend all morning getting that down. We had underwear in the truck for like two months after that. Those were the pranking days. The students would take all of our Trevecca trays to Olivet and swap them. Olivet students met them halfway. That was a good prank. We were eating on Olivet trays [for some time],” said Robinson.
Robinson said he is retiring because he can feel himself slowing down, and he is ready to get some rest after being on call 24/7 for the past 25 years.
It’s just getting to a time where I’m slowing down a bit. Just four short years ago, I chased a guy across the Benson parking lot. He was trying to break into cars, and I saw him about the same time he saw me, and he started running. I caught him at about the health care center. That was four short years ago, and he was 28, and I was 62. I caught him, but I feel like I’m slowing down some. I don’t know that I could catch him now,” Robinson said. “I’m just going to try to just take it easy, and probably spend the whole month of January in Florida. My wife and I are going to go to Sanibel Island, and I’ll take a sabbatical there to think about what I’m going to do. She’s retiring too, and I want to leave while I’m healthy enough to enjoy some time away.”
Whatever he does, Robinson will surely have fun with his retirement.
“Maybe in the spring, I’ll get a little expedition together and go in the woods to look for the creepy clown. Maybe I’ll solve that. I have a theory—I think the creep clowns were almost extinct, but then the bears quit eating them because they taste funny. You get it? They taste funny. That was a joke,” Robinson said and laughed.
Though his retirement is well-deserved after 25 years of service at Trevecca, many will be sad to see him go.
“He’s been one of the best bosses I’ve ever had,” said Greg Dawson, captain of Trevecca security. “He’s great to work with and a great storyteller with a great sense of humor. He’s kind of a legend around here among people that know him best. You [talk about] Norm to anyone who graduated here in the last 25 years will know who you’re talking about no questions asked. He’s had a big impact on this campus. I’m happy for him. At the same time, it’s kind of sad losing him. I know we’re all going to miss him when he’s gone. Hopefully he’ll come back and visit and keep us entertained with his stories.”
Steve Harris, associate provost and dean of students, agreed and said Robinson will be difficult to replace.
“It’s about having the right person in the right position, and that’s exactly what Norma has been—the right person in the right position for Trevecca to do a great job. I hate to see him retire, although at the same time, I’m happy for him. It will be our loss,” said Harris. “Norm’s will be shoes that will be difficult to fill. We’re going to miss Norm, but he’s well-deserving of his retirement.”
Of the things he will miss about Trevecca, Robinson said it’s the students that will be hardest to part with.
“I’ve always enjoyed working in a place where every fall, you see a new group of young people come in. It tends to keep you young I think,” said Robinson. “This job has been a calling. It’s probably one of the best places I’ve ever worked. I’ve only ever worked three places in my life—I was a marine and I was a police officer with Metro for 13 years before I came here. That’s just been a blessing to me. I think I fulfilled a lot of things that I wanted to do.”