Allegations of political retribution leveled at Oregon State University by Art Robinson

by NW Spotlight

Republican Art Robinson ran as the candidate for U.S. Congress in the 4th Congressional District against Democrat Peter DeFazio last November. DeFazio won re-election, gaining 54.5% of the vote while Art Robinson got 43.6% of the vote.  Robinson is now reporting that since the election and since he has announced that he would run again against DeFazio in 2012, Oregon State University is trying to prevent three of his children from receiving their PhD degrees in nuclear engineering.

Robinson says “OSU is a liberal socialist Democrat stronghold in Oregon that received a reported $27 million in earmark funding from my opponent, Peter DeFazio, and his Democrat colleagues during the last legislative session.”

Art Robinson is also saying that an OSU professor of nuclear engineering, Jack Higginbotham, has been ostracized because he warned Robinson about the university’s plans to expel his son Joshua and daughter Bethany.

Robinson published his allegations this past weekend, and it was reported in the WorldNetDaily today.

OSU posted a response today, replying already that “The university has found no factual basis for the accusations made against those faculty members.” Presumably OSU learned of Art Robinson’s allegations long enough ago to have already looked into the accusations.  OSU’s response also states “the claims made therein are baseless and without merit.”

The story has now been picked up by the Corvallis Gazette Times and The Eugene Register-Guard.


  • Nothing here – just a repeat of their forcing George Taylor out for looking at real data, instead following some ignorant idiot, crackpot governor. The question is how our current, better educated, governor will respond.

    Business as usual in Oregon. (I’m sure, at least on regular from Damascus will claim nothing is wrong.)


  • Steve Plunk

    More information is needed. So far we only have Mr. Robinson’s claims. Before we can get too worked up we need some corroborating facts.

    The professor who tipped off Robinson should make a statement.

  • Bob Clark

    In this state, universities have morphed into being pro government forces. Take PSU, the students receive credit for stumping for any new tax or tax increase initiative. The city of Portland has PSU in its hip pocket, representing a marching army of political canvassers and voters who can swing elections just enough to keep the city hall regime kooking out and taxing for new pipe dreams of one sort or another.

  • valley person

    2 questions. First, why is Mr Robinson sending his “children” to a “liberal-socialist-Democrat” stronghold? Can’t he find a decent private college or university? And second, when do one’s “children” qualify as adults? I mean, if they are all PhD candidates they should be mid 20s at least.

    Beyond that, if this guy wants to be known as something other than a crank, he will deal with family problems in a lower key way.

    • Plain Jane

      Valley person,
      Dr. Robinson’s children are attending OSU to study nuclear engineering. OSU’s nuclear program is one of the best in the country and is not far from their home. As Oregon residents, why shouldn’t they attend OSU? Indeed, science students are probably the least likely to choose an educational environment based on politics. They accommodated themselves to OSU’s idiosyncracies for several years, but the situation became toxic after their dad lost the election. Dr. Robinson is trying to protect his children from what sounds like a political and cultural witch hunt, hence his pointed description of the institution. There may be more to this story but the students’ grades have nothing to do with it, so there is no “family problem” to be dealt with “in a lower key way.” However, there is a very public problem: OSU’s respect for political and cultural diversity is seriously in doubt. This should be of concern to Oregonians of all political stripes and I admire Dr. Robinson’s courage in speaking out.

      • valley person

        Plain Jane, I have taught at all 3 major state universities, including OSU.
        The idea that anyone’s “children” would be punished for the political sins of their parents is beyond ludicrous. This is particularly true for science and engineering programs, which are apolitical. The situation at OSU is not toxic. Its the situation in your heads that appears to be.

        If you or Dr Robinson are truly paranoid enough to think that OSU is apt to persecute students based on their parents politics, then you should encourage your family members to attend Stanford or Harvard or another private institution that offers whatever program you are pursuing.But frankly I think Robinson’s charges are hogwash.

        • Logical Louie

          There is no program at OSU or the UO that doesn’t carry the bias of a uber liberal faculty to one level or another. To state that any of their programs are apolitical is a pipe dream. So I suggest you put the pipe down and join the rest of us here in the real world.

        • Logical Louie

          There is no program at OSU or the UO that doesn’t carry the bias of a uber liberal faculty to one level or another. To state that any of their programs are apolitical is a pipe dream. So I suggest you put the pipe down and join the rest of us here in the real world.

        • Steve Plunk

          I think waiting for facts would be even more prudent for those defending the University and it’s faculty.

          In my college days I saw coeds being bedded by professors, given illegal substances, male students sleeping their way to A’s, and vindictive tyrants running classrooms. This seems like a believable story but let’s wait for the whole of it.

          Obviously Dr. Robinson didn’t expect bias when his children enrolled in their home state’s university.

          • valley person

            Yes, by all means wait for facts. Only sometimes accusations just smell fishy, and this is one of them. Universities are not monastaries. Yes, adult professors sometimes sleep with adult students. Egomaniacs with tenure can dominate classrooms. And students can feel picked on. But look at the accusation Robinson is making.

            Defazio funnels money to OSU (and lets agree, other state universities). Robinson runs against Defazio. The OSU Administration then somehow communicates to professors to go hard on Robinson’s “children.” Now that assumes they even knew he had adult children at the university, and it assumes some sort of conspiracy the likes of which are miniscule, because any tenured professor worth his or her salt would call BS on the whole thing.

            It just doesn’t add up. Sorry.

        • Plain Jane

          Valley person,
          I respect your experience as an educator. Dr. Robinson’s experience in academia is also extensive. The fact that you have different perspectives invalidates neither your views nor his. However, I can see no reason for Dr. Robinson to fabricate the experiences of his children. He is trying to make sense out of the illogical actions of a few people in one department and his frustration is genuine. It is a fact that in about a week one of his sons is set to be kicked out of the 5-year Ph.D. program in which he has already invested 4 years. This is most unusual. I am very interested in this story and will be watching for more information.

          As sociologist Franz Oppenheimer noted, the two ways of obtaining wealth are the political means (coercion) and the economic means (mutually agreeable trade). Science in the ideal sense is not political but a large share of science funding now comes from the federal government – even if it is first funneled through a “private” corporation. Thus many scientific disciplines are now dependent on the political means for their survival and bullying is part of the deal. It’s not inconceivable that there are a few bad apples (or just desperate ones) in academia. Perhaps Valley person, the charges seem ludicrous to you because your experiences were with an older and more principled generation than the one now in charge.

          I’ll concede your point that the only toxicity is in my head. Back when I was a progressive lefty, I hated Christians with a passion. Now that I’m in recovery from that affliction of the heart, I’m probably a little too quick to criticize those still struggling with that particular vice. With Lent less than 2 hours away, I’ll have many opportunities to work on being more charitable and your criticism is much appreciated.

          • valley person

            He may not be fabricating them. He may be conflating whatever problems his offspring are having with his political issues.

            None of us can know for sure, but I have never been in a faculty meeting where politics was even discussed, so the odds that some directive came down to go hard on the Robinson family just strike me as very very small.

            The basic charge here, that a university administration directed faculty members to go hard on the offspring of someone because he is running for office against someone who has helped funnel grants to said university…well it just doesn’t pass my smell test. I expect reality is that the Robinson “kids” missed some deadlines and didn’t get extensions and their dad is paranoid.

            I think some people try to politicize every event. That is where the toxicity problem may lie. Lets not turn every issue into politics.

        • Apostol is a LOSER

          You taught one semester each at PSU and OSU as an extended studies instructor, Dean Apostol. You stank so bad they each canned you after one semester. Student evaluations described you as “rambling,” “monotonous.” One said class should have been called “naptime.”

          Having flunked out of a masters program, and taking seven years to do so, you wouldn’t know that continuing to pursue your PhD research at another university after being dismissed from a PhD program is virtually impossible. You also wouldn’t know that PhD candidates are hardly ever dismissed. Those who leave, leave voluntarily, either because they’re tired of the workload, or because they’re tired of starving to death. The odds of two of Dr. Robinson’s children, both of whom have superior academic resumes, being kicked out of a PhD program at the same time for academic reasons are ZERO.

          Dean Apostol, you are nothing but a pathetic loser who spends his days haunting Oregon Catalyst. You need psychiatric help.

          • valley person

            If you have to answer political arguments with personal attacks based on wrong facts, I can’t help you. Go back to your cave.

    • Steve Plunk

      Since we subsidize the universities here why wouldn’t we send our kids to them? And if our kids are 12, 20, or even 30 they are still our kids. The Dr.s experience in academia allows him insight to help. Parents don’t ever turn their backs on their children.

      The Left is very fond of public displays of disenfranchisement. Why can’t these people do the same? It seems the problem is also involving a well known professor. If true this should all be public, not low key.

      • valley person

        Because they are as Robinson claims, “liberal-socialist-Democrat” strongholds. If he and you feel that way, then don’t hand them your tuition money.

        • Plain Jane

          They’re “liberal-socialist-Democrat” (LSD?) strongholds because they’re dependent on government funding. We give them our money because we find value in what they offer – at least until they turn mean. We actually believe all that stuff about the beauty of a pluralistic society and expect that our values will also be respected. When we find all values being respected except ours, we get testy.

          • Smith23

            My god, do you people actually believe what you are writing here? Do you really believe that OSU is an ultra liberal socialist democrat (sic) hotbed? Do you really believe that there would be a conspiracy to get rid of some politician’s children? Really?

            I just wandered into this–whatever it is and find it amusing and horrifying that apparently functioning adults can be so credulous. Now I understand where the “Birthers,” and the “Obama is a Muslim” and the “earth is 6000 years old” people live. By the way, did you hear that the UO is spiking the water supply in the dorms with democrat-supplied drugs to turn the freshman into socialists. Really, it true. Pass it on.

          • valley person

            So every institution that takes government funds is by definition a liberal-socialist stronghold? What about private corporations that do a lot of government contracting. Haliburton is a liberal-socialist stonghold? Come on Plain Jane.

            I’ll stipulate that universities in general tend to have more liberal people on their faculties and in administration than the population in general. But assuming this translates into persecution of students because of their parents politics? Sorry. I don’t buy it.

            Conservatives are becoming serial whiners, and are always looking for excuses outside of themselves. You have morphed into what you once (rightly I think) criticized about liberals.

          • Plain Jane

            Valley person, Halliburton is a corporatist entity and corporatism is a form of socialism. Many so-called conservatives are corporatists, though they are often mistaken for free-market adherents. I didn’t say that EVERY institution that takes government money is a “liberal socialist stronghold.” However, I’ll go out on a limb and say that usually liberals and conservatives are just cozy peas in the same big government pod. Their infighting over the spoils keeps all of us little folks at each other’s throats while Leviathan just keeps on growing. It takes both a right wing and a left wing to reliably grow the welfare-warfare state.

            Because Art Robinson’s political views don’t fall into the narrow-minded range of socially acceptable discourse, he has been ridiculed and vilified. Perhaps you were right at the onset, though, and the strain of the election in which he was smeared as a racist with Wall Street and Big Oil connections has taken its toll. I’d say he’s earned the right to do some whining. He was an underdog from the get-go and this inclines me to take his side. Where you see a paranoid nut, I see a free-thinker with an independent spirit that used to be a lot more common in Oregon than it is today. His kids are nontraditional students and the academic folks I’ve encountered have usually been inclined to support such students, even if they find the parents to be a nuisance. I’ll sit down and shut up now until we have some actual facts to discuss.

          • not a betting person

            Bill Posts post below provides something of an explanation from the university side. I’m not sure what “facts” will emerge given the personal nature of the complaint, but you are right we should all hold fire.

            Socialism isn’t so bad as long as it is tempered by democracy and private enterprise. Just like private enterprise is not bad if tempered by socialism and democracy. Mixed systems deliver a pretty decent way of life in many countries, including the U.S. A truly free market would be hell for most people. Not enough economic security.

            I know next to nothing about Art Robinson and won’t judge him. I just doubt his charges for reasons stated. Thanks for the civil exchange.

  • Leepster55

    all three adult children with excellant credentials is NOT a coincidence….this is planned….I hope they sue for a billion dollars..

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