Susanna Castillo-Robson, former associate vice chancellor of admissions and enrollment, died Sept. 1 from complications with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. She was 62.
Remembered by friends and colleagues as warm and as a mentor to students and faculty, Castillo-Robson was known for introducing changes to Tele-BEARS as well as making the campus grounds more accessible for students with disabilities.
From 2006 to 2010, Castillo-Robson served as associate vice chancellor of admissions and enrollment after her tenure as campus registrar. During this time, she advocated disability access and student privacy rights.
“She was a champion of a diverse student body,” said Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland.
Castillo-Robson worked with a campus committee to create new paths to accommodate students with disabilities. Current UC Berkeley Registrar Walter Wong was hired by Castillo-Robson when she held the position.
“She herself had a history of her own disabilities,” Wong said. “She had polio growing up, which affected her mobility. However, despite her history, I think she really just saw how important it was to be an advocate.”
This commitment to student concerns was echoed in her efforts to improve information technology for students. She was involved with transforming Tele-BEARS to an online system.
In 2007, Castillo-Robson sponsored a report exploring how students used information technology on campus and offered suggestions for multiple improvements. One of the issues outlined in the report was the students’ desire for a one-time log-on for campus online services, which is now AirBears 2.
Koshland said Castillo-Robson was elegant, professional and had a sense of humor.
“She knew how to be part of a team and lead,” Koshland said.
Wong remembers Castillo-Robson’s fondness for using board games to engage with staff.
“We used to play Pictionary in her office,” he said. “She used to always win because she just knew how to guess what these abstract pictures were. That helped me to see that she did have the skill and insight to interpret different people.”
In 2014, Castillo-Robson was awarded the Spirit of Hope Award from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation for her involvement with the organization’s 5k Race for Research in San Francisco. She and her team raised more than $30,000 over the course of three years.
After graduating high school in her native El Paso, Texas, Castillo-Robson attended Stanford University, where she graduated with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in four years.
She began her career at UC Berkeley as general operations manager of International House after working for UC San Diego and Harvard University. Castillo-Robson returned to UC Berkeley in 1994 as registrar after holding administrative positions at Stanford Law School and the UC Office of the President. She served as interim dean of students from 2005 to 2006 while retaining her position as registrar.
Castillo-Robson is survived by her husband, sister, two sisters-in-law, three brothers-in-law, three nephews and their spouses, cousins and extended family.