About Robert S. Jepson Jr.

Robert S. Jepson Jr., B’64, GB’75, H’87
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Jepson Associates Inc.
Savannah, Georgia

A visionary entrepreneur who believed in the need to provide formal education in leadership studies and ethics for the next generations of leaders brought the concept and a generous gift to his alma mater, the University of Richmond.

Robert S. Jepson Jr. is a 1964 graduate of the Robins School of Business. While attending the University, he won the Norman Award for outstanding business school senior and was president of the school's student government and of Omicron Delta Kappa. In 1975 Jepson received a master's degree in commerce from the Robins School of Business. In 1987 the University presented an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree to him. He was awarded the President's Medal in 2003 for his support to the University of Richmond.

Jepson and his wife, Alice Andrews Jepson, have contributed to Jepson Hall, the Jepson Alumni Center, the Alice Andrews Jepson Theater in the Modlin Fine Arts Center, and the W. David Robbins Chair in Strategic Management.

A man of ideas and principles

Jepson is an inspiration to University of Richmond students. On May 5, 2003, he gave the Commencement addresses to Richmond graduates. He called on them to exercise honor and integrity as they moved out into the world and laid down seven concepts of personal leadership that he believes enrich his life and would do the same for others who practice them. Speaking of the seven concepts, he said:

"Dare to dream. Commit yourselves to excellence. Live your lives with genuine concern for others. Maintain absolute integrity and high ethics. Be strong enough to take risks and learn from failure. Develop a tolerance for stress. And importantly, live your lives with a sense of stewardship. All great achievements begin with dreams. Each of you will reach higher, achieve more, by being a dreamer ... Never compromise the integrity of your dreams ... or allow your visions to be relegated to mediocrity or to a status of that which might have been."

On excellence, Jepson said that leaders and winners understand "there is no substitute for striving to become, becoming, and remaining the very best." Every successful person also fosters a genuine concern for others, while maintaining absolute integrity in public and private life, he said. "Your ethics expressed through your actions are a clear window into your soul. All of us, every day, weave the ethical and moral fabric of our lives. We wear that fabric everywhere we go, and it is there for all to see."

"Let us all take care," he urged, "to weave only that which we are proud to display." Jepson reminded the audience that leaders must be willing to take risks and that risk is part of every dictionary definition of the term entrepreneur. Risk taking is not "the foolhardy go-for-it-all of the gambler whose fortune is riding completely on chance," he said. "The risk I speak of is a well-thought-out investment of time and resources, which may pay enormous dividends, both emotionally and financially."

Jepson advised the graduates that stress is a part of business and living that "will unfortunately follow you every day and almost everywhere, and the higher you rise the more certain is its presence in your life." Finally, he asked that each person demonstrate appreciativeness and humility with "a conspicuous sense of stewardship" using the financial and human capital that accumulates over a lifetime.

A life of professional accomplishment

Jepson founded Jepson Associates Inc., a private investment firm, in 1989. He is the former head of The Jepson Corporation, a Fortune 500 diversified manufacturing conglomerate, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which he sold in 1989. In 1993, he became chairman of Kuhlman Corp., also a NYSE-listed diversified manufacturing company, where he engineered a restructuring that resulted in the successful sale of the company to Borg-Warner Automotive in 1999.

The Jepsons focus much of their philanthropy on higher education and are leading benefactors at the University of Richmond.

Among their most notable contributions is the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, founded in 1989, the first of its kind in American academia. Jepson served as chair of the University's Campaign for Richmond (1989-1993). He earned two degrees from the University of Richmond: a B.S.B.A. in 1964 and an M.S. in Commerce in 1975. The University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree in 1987, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service in 1993, the Trustees' Distinguished Service Award in 1994, and the President's Medal in 2002. In 1996, the Beta Gamma Sigma Leadership Honor Society awarded him the Medallion for Entrepreneurship. Additionally, he served as executive-in-residence for the Robins School of Business (1986-1987). In 2018, he launched the Jepson Scholars Program, which provides annual scholarships for up to three Jepson School graduating seniors to attend master's programs at the University of Oxford. 

In 1998, Jepson received the Award for Volunteerism and Philanthropy from The Council for Independent Colleges, Washington, D.C. He was presented with the 2002 Pepe Award by the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2008, the National Leadership Honor Society of Omicron Delta Kappa presented him with their Laurel Crowned Circle Award. He has also been awarded honorary degrees by eight other American institutions of higher education. In recognition of his visionary leadership and lifelong commitment to bettering the lives of others, he was inducted in 2020 as a Georgia Trustee, Georgia's highest honor. In 2024, he received the Legacy Leader Award from the Southeast Georgia Leadership Forum. 

Jepson served as a member of the University of Richmond's Board from 1993 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2007. He was elected to emeritus status in 2008. He has also served on the boards of numerous NYSE-listed companies, including AGL Resources Inc., Circuit City Stores Inc., Dominion Energy, Washington Water Power Company and Hecla Mining Company, as well as local and state charities in Georgia. He is a commercial and instrument-rated pilot and a certified diver. The Jepsons have two sons and four grandsons.

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