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As a young couple, Mike and Debbie Rubin lived just across the woods from the Wake Forest campus. They took advantage of the close proximity and began to explore the cultural opportunities that were offered at the University, including foreign films in DeTamble Auditorium, nationally recognized speakers in Wait Chapel, and art exhibits in Scales Fine Arts Center.
Over the years, the Rubins have developed further connections with the University. Debbie earned master's degrees in counseling and liberal studies and worked in the University Counseling Center for nine years. She served as chair of the Reynolda House Board of Directors and is now a University Trustee. Mike has made time in his busy medical practice to pursue his own master of arts in liberal studies. He admires the spirit he observes among the faculty. "Full professors lecturing students is a tremendous educational opportunity. Even outside of class, I see my professors meeting with students all over campus."
In 1995, Mike and Debbie's interest in American Ethnic Studies coincided with the University's plan to establish a similar program. The Ernest Rubin Professorship was named after Mike's father, who wrote prolifically on immigration and the demography of the foreign-born. The Rubins chose to support their professorship in two ways. First, they made an outright gift of appreciated stock to establish the professorship and make it available right away. Second, in order to support the professorship in the future, the Rubins chose to set up a deferred-payment charitable gift annuity.
In addition to faculty, Mike and Debbie are also concerned about student opportunity. Mike noted, "If a student survives the rigorous admissions experience and earns the opportunity to come here, we feel strongly that they should have that opportunity." Debbie added, "Having students of diverse backgrounds is integral to the Wake Forest experience." With this in mind, in 2005 they established the Rubin Scholarship through their donor-advised fund at the Winston-Salem Foundation. The scholarship provides need-based financial-aid support for undergraduate students.
Mike commented, "Wake Forest is an economic engine, but it is also a cultural force for the entire community." Therefore, in addition to Debbie's work with Reynolda House, in 2009 Mike and Debbie created the Rubin Faculty Fellowship in the Arts that is available to faculty and also provides for Z. Smith Reynolds Library. Preference for the fellowship is given to faculty teaching in the Art Department.
"Wake Forest is an integral part of the community," Mike stated. "We are happy to contribute to both." Mike and Debbie Rubin have supported the University in a number of ways and are inspirations to those around them. Not only are they inspirations to their peers but to generations ahead of them as well. "My parents modeled philanthropy for me, and hopefully we are modeling for our children," said Debbie.
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