School cricket and rugby successes are the prominent memories of Dennis Robinson's years at Marlborough Boys' College.
He is helping organise the November 1 and 2 college reunion for students who were at the college in 1963 when it became a boys-only school.
Dennis was in the third form (year 9) in 1963 but says he has no lasting memories of the adjustments required for the school's all-male classes after his earlier co-educational learning at Blenheim School and Bohally Intermediate.
"My memories of Marlborough Boys' College were more of the cricket and rugby teams," he confides.
Sporting passions were put aside when he finished school and started his tertiary studies at Otago University in Dunedin.
By the time he had finished his PhD, he was part of the university's pharmacy faculty.
Moving to the United States in 1986, he joined the University of Nebraska Medical Centre where his specialty research fields included biodegradable implants to treat bone infections and nanotechnology targeting bone cancer cells.
He gave more than 100 presentations at scientific conferences, published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and wrote nine book chapters on drug delivery and nanotechnology. Dennis and his wife Sandra retired to Blenheim two years ago but he remains an Emeritus Professor at Nevada University.
Links with Marlborough Boys' College have been rekindled, too, and he hopes to use his experience sourcing funds for university research projects to help the school grow.
In the United States millions of dollars can be sourced for scientific research projects, he says.
Since returning to New Zealand, he has been pleasantly surprised to learn of funds available here for education.
A month ago he joined the Marlborough College Charitable Foundation, set up in 2011 to pay for capital items and educational resources so students' learning is not crippled by a $1.325 million debt the school had to repay.
The debt is to be cleared by the end of the year but the foundation will continue its work.
Dennis hopes it can help the college develop a structural plan to build on existing academic, sports and cultural programmes.
"There's a lot of resources - locally, nationally and internationally that can be tapped into."
Asked how education in New Zealand measures against that in the United States, he says it is hard to compare. When he went to the United States in 1986, he was surprised to see American students juggling their tertiary studies with regular employment so they could pay their high tertiary fees.
New Zealand students, he says, were too busy with lectures in the morning, laboratory sessions in the afternoon and writing up experiments in the evening to have time for any other work.
He financed his own years at university with wages earned during the summer holidays at Marlborough Transport, carting hay and grain for farmers.
Economic times have changed, he acknowledges, and New Zealand students share their American counterparts' need for jobs and/or student loans to cover tuition fees and day-to-day living costs.
Their commitment is worth it, he thinks.
Tertiary studies gave him a career that has let him see much of the world by attending scientific conferences and study programmes.
"I could never have imagined going where education has taken me; I'm very fortunate. But I haven't forgotten I'm a simple Blenheim boy and I'm here to give back whatever I can to education."
Former students and staff at Marlborough Boys' College in 1963 are all invited to the November 1 and 2 reunion. Visit the web site mbc.school.nz/oldboys/reunion or phone 03 577 9795 for more information.
- The Marlborough Express