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Robert C. Jeffrey Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Communication

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Robert C. Jeffrey at his desk, while dean of the College of Communication.
Robert C. Jeffrey at his desk, while dean of the College of Communication.

The Robert C. Jeffrey Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Communication was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on August 12, 1993, for the benefit of the College of Communication. Gift funds were provided by the friends and colleagues of Robert C. Jeffrey, PhD. The endowment was established through friends and colleagues’ donations in honor of Dr. Jeffrey’s lifelong service to the field of education, specifically to communication studies, and his role in elevating the College of Communication to a world-class school in the field.

Robert Jeffrey was born in San Antonio, Texas, on November 11, 1927. His name was changed to Robert Campbell Jeffrey after the stock market crash in 1929 to honor a family friend who took his own life after losing everything he owned. Robert grew up with his twin brother, Edgar, one older sister, Margaret, and two older brothers, Jack and Richard, in a small home near what is now downtown San Antonio.

At age 15, Robert and Edgar went to live with their grandmother in Burlington, Iowa, after their mother died. The two brothers worked on a farm in the summers and attended school in Burlington through the 12th grade. At Burlington High School, “Bob” led the debate team, participated in theatrical productions, and was an exceptional student. It was during his time in high school that Bob met Marjorie Carspecken and decided he would marry her.

Robert and Marjorie Jeffrey 1950 Iowa City, Iowa.
Robert and Marjorie Jeffrey 1950 Iowa City, Iowa.
Duty came first, however, and in May of 1945 Bob enlisted in the Navy, serving for two years. Among his shipboard duties was the management of the ship’s ice cream stand. In February 1947 Bob and Marjorie married. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, Bob enrolled at the University of Iowa in Iowa City for the 1947 fall term. He worked as a meat packer, sold encyclopedias, and held other jobs during the summer to supplement his family’s income.

Living in a trailer, then student barracks, Bob’s young family began to grow as he earned first his bachelor’s and then his master’s degree from the University of Iowa. During those years he taught at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, as well as the University of Iowa.

The Jeffrey family moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, when Bob was offered a teaching position at the University of Virginia. Bob worked on a PhD in speech communication at night while teaching during the day. By 1958, Bob and Marjorie had four children. Then “Dr.” Jeffrey took his family to Indiana to assume a post at Indiana University, which he held until 1968.

In 1968 Dr. Jeffrey was offered the position of chairman of the Department of Speech Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his time at the University, Dr. Jeffrey distinguished himself as chairman, as interim dean, and finally dean of the college he loved so much.


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