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Why We Soar: Love and family

Why We Soar: Love and family

Nick Thompson ’23 April 19, 2023

Even before attending UD, Robin Lee Steberl ’79 knew it was the place for her. She was looking for a college experience where she would not only get a quality education but also grow as a person. She found that and much more as a Flyer. And now she ensures upperclassmen can achieve the same things she did.

Robin SteberlSteberl is a data support analyst for human resources at UD — a position that was a long time coming.

“When it came time for me to graduate, I was like, ‘I’m going to look for a job at UD,’” she said. “But one of the gentlemen I wanted to work with said, ‘No, you need to go out and see what else is out there.’”

She said she was devastated to hear that, but that gentleman, Joe Garcia ’52, former budget director at UD, assured her that her time at UD was not finished.

“He told me, ‘You’ll want to come back to UD someday. You’ll know just how special UD is.’”

It wasn’t just Steberl who knew how special UD was, but many in her family knew it as well. Her mother worked for the University part time after retiring from nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; her sister is a current full-time employee, as is her niece.

“This University makes you feel appreciated. You feel that what you are doing is worthwhile and that it’s for a good cause. We look out for each other and make sure that everyone — students, faculty and staff — are all taken care of.”

While Steberl acknowledges that she is helping to serve the University through her work, she also gives back to the students. She is a member of the University’s Front Porch Society, which honors donors who give gifts of any size for three of more consecutive fiscal years. Her continuous giving throughout more than three decades supports the Merle P. Smith Scholarship — named in honor of her husband’s grandfather, a 1925 graduate of UD.

Established in 1965, the scholarship assists full-time upperclass students, helping ensure they get to graduation. Steberl said that by donating to that scholarship she not only honors a student but also the legacy of Smith.

But, Steberl said, a student’s time at UD is more than just getting a great education.

“It’s how to function in the world, how to be well-rounded, and to respect people and be kind and caring,” she said. “I think we see a lot of that here at UD.”

Steberl said the respect and kindness that she sees on campus is something she sees firsthand daily. When she first came to UD as a student, she was looking for an on-campus job. After exhausting almost all her options, she went to the comptroller’s office where Tom Weckesser ’67 gave her the break she needed and hired her as an assistant.

The experience, she said, was life changing for not just her, but for her siblings as well, even those who did not come to UD.

“[Tom], Jerry VonderBrink ’66 and Joe Garcia ’52 took me under their wings,” Steberl said. “They took care of me and my sibling as well as all the student employees in their areas as if we were their own children. They showed us how to work hard and how to be respectful, the same things that our mother impressed upon us at home while growing up. They played a big part in helping to shape who I am.”

It’s that kindness and spirit that Steberl says helps to make UD special — by looking out for each other and making sure everyone is taken care of.

“You just don’t find that anywhere else.”

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