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UNB loses a ‘superb and passionate’ professor

The University of New Brunswick community was saddened Wednesday to hear of the passing of one of its professors.

Dr. Wendy Robbins, a professor in the English department, passed away Tuesday night in hospital after suffering an unexpected brain aneurysm.

Over the course of her career, Robbinsthe English department’s longest-serving memberwon teaching awards, developed courses on women’s writing and feminist approaches to literature and published widely on Canadian and Commonwealth literature. The first woman promoted to full professor of English at UNB, she was also a co-founder of the Gender and Women’s Studies program.

A lifelong activist, Robbins had attended a Liberal Party fundraiser in Saint John the evening she suffered her aneurysm, at which she took the opportunity to engage with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien about ensuring more women are elected to political office, the CBC reports.

This passion for change left its mark on her students.

“Professor Robbins was a very inspiring person, full of compassion” says Izza Hassan, a first-year MA in Creative Writing student who was enrolled in Dr. Robbins’ women’s life-writing in Canada course this past semester. “After her class every week, I always felt motivated to be more proactive. She made me feel that one person could affect change. She also had a very contagious laugh!”

Other students offered their heartfelt condolences on social media.

“Dr. Robbins was a superb and passionate educator, generous with her time and knowledge, who was always most concerned with enabling others to succeed,” her former student Bethany Daigle, a PhD student, posted on Facebook. “I find it so appropriate that the last time I saw her she was giving a toast to a colleague for breaking the university’s glass ceiling. She herself can be credited for the same thing.”

Although funeral plans are not yet set, the CBC reports that her family is planning more of a “party,” so that those mourning will remember her joy and love of life.

Robbins will be dearly missed by her family, colleagues and students.

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