My plans were to attend the University of Illinois after graduation, but, because of my mother’s health issues, I needed to remain in Decatur. I graduated from Millikin in 1966, and then earned a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Indiana University. Later I completed two executive education programs from Stanford. I have served on the Millikin Board of Trustees since 2016.
In 1967 I married my college sweetheart, Connie. Our family consists of our two daughters, five grandchildren, and three extended family children from Finland, Switzerland, and the Dominican Republic. Two of our extended family kids were AFS exchange students at our local high school.
I worked for one year as Asst. to the Dean of Students at the University of Connecticut before being drafted into the military, even though I was 24½ and married. I served for two years in the infantry and spent one year in Vietnam (1969-70). I wrote about my war experiences and the turmoil raging in our country in a book published in 2020 entitled Hate the War Honor the Soldier, Lessons from Vietnam.
After returning from Vietnam, I spent my business career in the printing and publishing industry first with 3M Company in Denver and Minnesota, and then with Compugraphic Corporation in San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and finally Boston in 1982.
In 1986 I co-founded a software company with five people. This business, Monotype Imaging, grew to become one of the largest typeface development companies in the world, and I served as the CEO and Chairman of the Board. In 2007 we became a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ exchange, and I was proud that our employees were able to gain equity positions in the business.
My experiences in Vietnam and a subsequent business failure early in my career challenged my life priorities and my spiritual agnosticism. During the course of this difficult business situation, I became a committed Christian and, since then, have tried to live my life applying the teachings of loving the Lord and caring for others. Of course, I have not always succeeded in those endeavors, but they have always served as my goals.
Throughout my adult life I have been involved with various local and national Christian organizations. I loved working with my local church as a 2nd grade Sunday School teacher, a short-term missionary in Moldova teaching the Bible and English, and a church elder (the second graders required the most preparation!), In 2008, I went to Uganda with World Vision to work with local leaders helping children of war who had been rescued from abduction. I currently volunteer with PEER Servants, a Christian micro-finance organization working with local partners in ten of the poorest countries in the world.
In 2017, I published my memoirs, Heir to the Kingdom, Memoirs of Robert M. Givens, the first of my three books. After publishing the book on my Vietnam experiences in 2020, I wrote my first of what hopefully will be several children’s books, entitled Oliver the Outcast Otter, illustrated by my grandniece. I have enjoyed this second career as an author, although I am sure Mr. Stewart would be surprised.
Over the years we have lived in many regions of the U.S. including almost forty years in New England. But we are still Midwesterners at heart and enjoy returning to Illinois whenever possible.