University News

Timothy and Kathleen "Robin" Tomlinson
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Tomlinson Establishes Two Scholarships at WIU

August 1, 2017

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL - - "WIU was the source of our education and we were well prepared upon graduation," said Timothy Tomlinson, who has established two fully endowed scholarships to help Western Illinois University students. Tomlinson wants to help grow another generation of "capable professionals," and he hopes the two newly created Tomlinson scholarships will do just that.

Tomlinson, a 1971 and 1973 mathematics graduate, was commissioned in June 1971 through the WIU ROTC program as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He went on to a successful career in the Army, retiring in 1995 as a Lieutenant Colonel, and having commanded a battalion. His scholarship, the Timothy E. Tomlinson Mathematics Scholarship, will be awarded to a full-time undergraduate student majoring in mathematics with a career goal of teaching math to students.

"I had known since being in the Test and Evaluation Command that the military considered mathematics as a critically weak area needing help. This was a great opportunity to do my part," he said.

Tomlinson's family is Leatherneck-strong. His father, Bill, graduated from
WIU in 1943 with a degree in mathematics, and he was a classmate of WIU alumnus and long-time WIU Mathematics Professor Joe Stipanowich. His mother, Ruth, attended Western, but left when she married Bill as he went to serve in WWII. While at Western, Tomlinson met Kathleen "Robin" Adair, who graduated in 1974 with a degree in health science and one month later, became Tim's wife. Their marriage spanned more than four decades. When Robin passed away in March 2016, Tim found the perfect way to honor his true love.

"Our niece, a professor at the Citadel, was the one to suggest a scholarship at WIU to memorialize Robin," Tomlinson said. "I was surprised a scholarship could be established so easily, so I decided to establish another in my name."

The Kathleen "Robin" Tomlinson Special Education Memorial Scholarship will be available in Fall 2018 to WIU students majoring in special education and who show involvement within the department and/or the community. Robin was the consummate teacher throughout her life, whether substituting for any and all subjects at the secondary level in Arizona public schools where she followed her Army husband, or in the Department of Defense schools in Germany, or even just volunteering with the Scouts. When her husband retired and they returned to Illinois, she found her main calling in substituting as either a teacher or aide for Special Education.

"I wished to help the students at our University succeed in these times of limited budgets and ballooning student debt," he added. "A memorial scholarship for special education was a natural as Robin had spent most of 20 years after our retiring from the Army substituting with special education. She was highly motivated to help and greatly gratified at successes of 'her kids.'"

Tomlinson remembers his wife as a charitable, caring woman, and that she deserves recognition of her service to the Army and to "her kids" that she doted on…kids she invested so much of her time and effort in. He's confident she would be very proud of this effort.

"These scholarships are structured to help and encourage students in their mid-course of study when initial scholarships tend to become 'honors only,' and the students have matured and settled on a truly desired career. The intent is to help boost these capable, dedicated students who may need a little more financial help to realize their intended goal," he explained.

"We are grateful for Timothy's investment of $50,000 to establish two endowed scholarships. His scholarship will help some of the brightest minds in our mathematics department. And then his creation of a special education memorial scholarship, in his wife's name, is a great way to honor and remember her," said Brad Bainter, vice president for Advancement and Public Services. "We appreciate that Tim wants to help our students succeed so that they can become lifelong educators."

Tomlinson added that he hopes that this "rather small contribution," in his words, may help attract, hold and graduate key professionals, who in turn will help others.

"I want WIU to be at the forefront," he said. "I am proud to continue serving and trying to save this great country of ours. This is but one more step in that lifetime effort."

Posted By: Amanda Shoemaker, WIU Foundation & Development (
Office of University Communications & Marketing