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Earlier this month, WND broke the sensational story in which Art Robinson – the noted scientist who challenged Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio for Oregon’s 4th District congressional seat in November – alleged some extraordinarily nasty post-election political retribution was underway against his children.

DeFazio, one of Congress’s most influential leftist progressives, having co-founded and chaired the House Progressive Caucus, won with 54.5 percent of the vote, compared to 43.6 percent for Robinson, a solid Reagan conservative – largely because, during the home stretch, DeFazio and his supporters launched a vicious media smear campaign against Robinson consisting of multiple outrageous lies (“Robinson’s a racist,” “Robinson’s in the pocket of ‘big oil,’” etc. – even, believe it or not, “Robinson wants to irradiate your drinking water.”)


Art Robinson, Ph.D.

Immediately after the election, however, Robinson announced that he would challenge DeFazio again in 2012. And that, according to Robinson, is when the ultraliberal Oregon political machine went into high gear, intending to grind not only Robinson up within those gears – but three of his children as well, all students in the nuclear engineering Ph.D. program at Oregon State University.

Before I explain how, let me quickly tell you about the Robinson kids.

In 1980, after having co-founded the Linus Pauling Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., with Nobel-winner Linus Pauling, Art Robinson founded the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine with the help of his chemist wife Laurelee. They had six children, which they homeschooled on 350 acres in southern Oregon. But in 1988, Lauralee died suddenly from hemorrhagic pancreatitis, leaving Art with the daunting task of caring for six young children, aged 18 months to 12 years. What did he do?

As I explained in a previous column:

Art restructured their homeschooling curriculum in such a way that his children could, to a considerable extent, teach themselves. He also eventually packaged the curriculum and offered it to the homeschooling world. “The Robinson Curriculum” apparently works pretty well, as today all six of Art’s children either have doctorate degrees or will shortly. One has a chemistry Ph.D., two have doctorates in veterinary medicine and the last three are all in the Oregon State University graduate program working toward their Ph.D.s in nuclear engineering.

Oh, and how’d they pay for all that expensive college and postgraduate schooling – six times? Sales of “The Robinson Curriculum,” which remains very popular among homeschoolers.

Talk about the American can-do spirit!

But now, faculty administrators at Oregon State University, which reportedly received $27 million in earmark funding thanks to DeFazio and his fellow Democrats during the last Congress, appear to be in the process of throwing some or all of the three Robinson children – Joshua, Bethany and Matthew – out of the graduate school where they have invested years in pursuit of doctorates in nuclear engineering.

But wait, you might be wondering, maybe there’s something wrong with these kids. Maybe their grades are no good and they’re just not cutting the mustard. Maybe it’s more complicated than what’s being presented here. Maybe …


Joshua Robinson’s master’s thesis award

Not a chance. After Joshua Robinson, who’s been working for four years on his doctorate, constructed a “prompt neutron activation elemental analyzer” (look it up) and added it to the OSU nuclear reactor, it earned him the award for best Masters of Nuclear Engineering thesis at OSU (see photo), and it has been praised by scientists at two prominent U.S. research facilities.

Well, what about Bethany Robinson, maybe she’s the slouch. Not exactly: Although Bethany, who has invested four years in her doctorate, has an OSU grade point average of an almost perfect 3.89, she has reportedly been told by a faculty member that he’s terminating her thesis work and taking all of her work in progress for himself!

So, the bad apple must be Matthew Robinson. Wrong again. Matthew, with an OSU grade point average of 3.91, passed up a $57,000 per year offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (that’s where my own father went to school, one of the best in the world) just so he could be with Joshua and Bethany at OSU.

It gets worse. Besides endangering the educations and careers of three of its best students – all named Robinson – OSU is apparently intent on destroying one of its finest professors as well.

OSU Professor of Nuclear Engineering Jack Higginbotham is a real hero in this whole miserable scenario. A fully tenured professor, Higginbotham is president of the OSU Faculty Senate and he is director of the Oregon NASA Space Science Consortium. And yet, after 24 years on the OSU faculty, they want to destroy him too. Why? Because he had the integrity to truly care about his students and to stand up for them in the face of the current plot against them.

Specifically, since the good professor was privy to all of various meetings and actions planned against the Robinson kids, he warned them and their father – and openly defended them.

As Art Robinson tells it, “Professor Higginbotham warned us that faculty administrators at OSU were working to make certain that Joshua, his sister Bethany and, if possible, his brother Matthew never receive Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering from OSU, regardless of their examination, academic and research performance. Professor Higginbotham then reviewed with us the details of the plan to destroy the education of these students and advised me to do anything I could to protect my children.”

Robinson added: “In retribution for Professor Higginbotham’s efforts to protect the Robinson students from these unprincipled attacks, he personally has become the target of a campaign of defamation, vilification, persecution, Star-Chamber humiliation and other career-destroying actions …”

Unfortunately, the president of Oregon State University, Edward Ray, has not seen fit to stop the unethical and probably illegal goings-on in his nuclear engineering department. Ray reportedly has refused even to meet with Robinson about these events.

Now, all of this is about to come to a head.

Last week, Joshua Robinson tried to enter the OSU reactor bay to work on his project but was reluctantly informed by a reactor operator that he had been barred from entry under orders from Instructor Steven Reese. Reese is married to Professor Kathryn Higley, the department chairwoman who has carried out much of the action against the students and Professor Higginbotham. And next Monday, March 28, the first day of the new school term, Reese is planning on bringing in two students to take over Joshua Robinson’s project. Joshua will remain locked out, unable to complete his Ph.D. project.

Higginbotham, meanwhile, has retained a major Oregon law firm to help him salvage his position and his career.

You may understandably be thinking: I’m sympathetic to the Robinsons – IF all this stuff is true. But how do I know it’s true? So far the story is a big “he said-he said” with no definitive proof.

Fair enough. But now, think like a detective or an investigative journalist and evaluate some of the puzzle pieces strewn about:

  • How can a student win an award for best Masters’ thesis, only to be disqualified for the exact same project as he progresses toward his doctorate?

  • Why would Joshua Robinson, who has had ready access to the university’s nuclear reactor continuously for over four years, where he single-handedly designed, fabricated and assembled his widely praised project, suddenly not be fit to even enter the reactor room?
  • Why would a university claim it can’t answer questions from the press about a student due to laws protecting that student’s privacy, but then when the press obtains the required waiver, continue to stonewall?

    That’s right. In its March 7 “Statement Regarding Internet Postings By Art Robinson,” OSU’s public relations department declared: “Federal law prohibits institutions of higher education from discussing matters concerning our students with anyone other than the student himself or herself without the express consent of the student involved.”

    Fine. The next day WND obtained “express consent of the student involved” in the form of a formal waiver from Joshua Robinson, explicitly permitting the university to talk to us about him and share documents related to his case.

    But when presented with Joshua’s release permitting OSU to talk to us, university spokesman Todd Simmons replied to WND editor Art Moore saying the release was “ridiculous” and refused to provide any more information than before we obtained and presented the release.

  • Why would rumors be circulating around the department that Joshua failed three oral exams, when he has only taken one oral exam – ever – and passed it handily?
  • If all is routine as OSU says, why would a tenured and celebrated nuclear engineering professor, Jack Higginbotham, be on the verge of losing his job and career because he tried to help students avoid being unjustly kicked out, and now be retaining legal counsel to negotiate with the university’s lawyers? Higginbotham wants to talk publicly about the situation, but cannot at this point, on advice of his attorneys.

    I’ve personally read over 500 emails sent to Prof. Higginbotham, almost all from Oregonians, including many OSU alumni and some from scientists and science professors – and every one of them is outraged, to put it mildly.

What on earth is Oregon State University doing? This is a fine institution, but some of its administrators are playing a very dangerous game. They are playing with their reputation, with their ability to fund-raise, and with their core academic integrity.

It’s crazy. Saner heads need to prevail at OSU – and quickly.

If you want to help right a terrible wrong that’s about to happen – not just to Art Robinson, his children who are students at OSU, and Professor Higginbotham, but to Oregon State University itself, which is in the process of irreparably harming itself – go to Robinson’s website, Oregon State Outrage.

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