On Feb. 15, Robert S. Jepson Jr., B’64, GB’75, H’87, became a , an honor reserved for Georgia’s most notable leaders.

More than 500 people, including University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher, Dr. Betty Crutcher, and Jepson School Dean Sandra Peart, flocked to the Savannah Convention Center for the black-tie . There, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Historical Society President and CEO W. Todd Groce inducted Jepson and Georgia architect and civic leader Robert L. Brown Jr. as Georgia Trustees.   

“Their visionary leadership in their respective fields and their lifelong commitment to bettering the lives of all Georgians makes them worthy of this high honor,” Groce said.

A highly successful businessman, Jepson founded and served as chairman and CEO of the Jepson Corporation, a Fortune 500 diversified manufacturing conglomerate, and served as chairman and CEO of Kuhlman Corporation, a NYSE-listed diversified manufacturing company. He also founded and is chairman and CEO of Jepson Associates, Inc., a private investment firm based in Savannah.   

For Others

In 1732, the United Kingdom’s King George III named a board of governors for a proposed colony along America’s coast. The rule of the governors, who became known as the Georgia Trustees, ended in 1754 when the colony of Georgia was firmly established. The Georgia Historical Society re-established the Georgia Trustees in 2009 as a way to honor leaders whose accomplishments and community service reflect the highest ideals of the founding body of the Georgia Trustees. 

At the gala, in line with the Georgia Trustees’ motto—“not for self, but for others”—Kemp and Groce lauded Jepson, a long-time Savannah resident, for his contributions to Savannah and Georgia, as much if not more than for his business successes.

In particular, they celebrated his transformative, philanthropic work with the Telfair Museums, Savannah’s renowned art museum, which includes the Jepson Center for the Arts; the Port of Savannah, now a thriving seaport and driver of economic development; the Georgia Historical Society, a highly regarded institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history; and two Georgia institutes of higher education: Savannah State University and Savannah College of Art and Design.

“Mostly I am an entrepreneur, and mostly I love the challenge of creation,” Jepson said in a aired the day before the gala.

“At University of Richmond, two years of my business program was the case study method—which really is nothing more than looking at others’ problems and their solutions and either agreeing with them or disagreeing and stating why,” he said. “That was really the basis for the creation and building of the Jepson School.”

“Just as the citizens of Georgia are grateful to Bob for his many extraordinary contributions to business, the arts, and education, we at the University of Richmond are grateful to him for his visionary leadership in founding the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the nation’s first undergraduate school dedicated to the study of leadership,” Peart said.

Stuff of the Heart

“Bob and his wife, Alice Andrews Jepson, continue to innovate and lead, most recently with the creation of the Jepson Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for Jepson School students to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Oxford,” Peart said.

Jepson himself had something to say about gratitude, thanking his wife and children for their constant love and support. He also expressed his sincere thanks for the honor of being inducted as a Georgia Trustee.

“It’s stuff of the heart,” Jepson said. “You can never be grateful enough, and I can never live long enough to be worthy of the honor.”

Similarly, the many recipients of Jepson’s beneficence feel they can never be grateful enough for his transformative contributions.

Photo: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Robert S. Jepson Jr., and Georgia Historical Society President and CEO W. Todd Groce (photo courtesy of Russ Bryant and the Georgia Historical Society)