Robinson, Rahauser to Speak at Commencement/Baccalaureate 2021
Mercersburg Academy will celebrate its graduating Class of 2021 at the school’s 128th Commencement, which will be held in person and on campus Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m. Floyd Robinson is this year’s invited Commencement speaker; he was Mercersburg’s first Black faculty member, and taught English at the Academy from 1969 to 1976. He went on to spend a quarter-century at the University of Houston, where he served as director of the university’s Health Center and as assistant vice president for student affairs/health and wellness before retiring in 2019.
The Class of 2021 includes 133 students.
Longtime faculty member Tom Rahauser ’74, P ’05, ’07, ’12, will give the address at Baccalaureate Friday, June 4, at 6 p.m. Rahauser is retiring at the close of the academic year after 43 years on the faculty.
The school will stream video of Baccalaureate and Commencement online for all to view, both live and on-demand following the events. Student speakers and additional details about Commencement Weekend will be announced at a later date. (For more information on the weekend, visit Mercersburg’s Commencement Weekend page: mercersburg.edu/commencement-weekend.)
“This honor is so touching it risks being overwhelming,” Robinson says. “I hope to process all of it before speaking in front of the Class of 2021.”
Student leaders in the senior class are responsible for working with the school’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations to select the Commencement and Baccalaureate speakers each year.
About Commencement Speaker Floyd Robinson
Robinson grew up in nearby Chambersburg, PA. In 1968, the summer before his senior year at Shippensburg University, he was teaching an English class in the Upward Bound program held on Mercersburg’s campus when a visitor entered his classroom as an observer. The observer turned out to be Mercersburg headmaster William C. Fowle, who later met with Robinson and said that he planned to integrate the school’s faculty the following year. Robinson was hired as the school’s first faculty member of color in fall 1969; in addition to teaching English, he worked with the Ridge Project and lived in ’Eighty-eight Dormitory and Fowle Hall.
Robinson left Mercersburg in 1976 for the corporate world, where he was employed by Gulf Oil and American Express before moving into the field of medical administration with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, TX. At Memorial Hermann, Robinson worked alongside Dr. Stanley Dudrick, a fellow Pennsylvania native who is credited with the invention of total parenteral nutrition (the feeding tube).
In 1994, Robinson became director of the University of Houston Health Center, where he introduced free HIV testing, a psychiatric clinic and a men’s clinic for students, and dental services for students, faculty, and staff. He became the school’s first assistant vice president for student affairs/health and wellness in 2012; in that position, Robinson managed six different student service areas.
Robinson, who lives in Houston, is also an accomplished musician; he is a member of Houston’s Christ Church Cathedral Choir, which has performed at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral in London. He has also sung with choirs directed by Leonard Bernstein and Fred Waring.
About Baccalaureate Speaker Tom Rahauser
As a Mercersburg student, Rahauser (who, like Robinson, grew up in Chambersburg) captained the boys’ soccer, boys’ basketball, and baseball teams and was awarded the Headmaster’s Prize and the Yale University Aurelian Prize for the Class of 1974. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, where he majored in Spanish, was captain of the soccer team for two years, and spent eight months studying at the Institute International in Madrid during his junior year.
Rahauser holds a master’s from Penn State University. He joined the Mercersburg faculty in 1978 as a Spanish teacher and served as school’s dean of students from 1996 until 2017, as well as its head boys’ soccer coach from 1984 to 1996. (Rahauser returned to the sidelines in fall 2017 as an assistant coach for the boys’ varsity soccer team.) He also chairs the Conduct Review Committee and received the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious and Interdisciplinary Studies in fall 2020.
Rahauser and his wife, Director of Counseling Services Susan Rahauser (who is also retiring at the end of the academic year), have three children, Eric ’05, Tim ’07, and Laura ’12. The Rahauser Counseling Center on campus was dedicated in Tom and Susan Rahauser’s honor in 2018.