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Art Robinson claims inconsistencies at OSU, says his children are being treated unfairly [UPDATED]

Source: WorldNetDaily

It seems Art Robinson is at it again.

The former congressional candidate for Oregon’s fourth district is accusing Oregon State University of attempting to remove his three children from its graduate program in Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics as a response to his candidacy in the previous election and his impending candidacy in 2012. He believes the appropriations awarded to OSU under DeFazio’s tenure are influencing the decisions of how to handle his children in the program.

According to Robinson, two of his children, Joshua and Bethany, are slated for removal from the Ph.D program, and a professor who is trying to help them has become the target of a defamation campaign:

Democrat activist David Hamby and militant feminist and chairman of the nuclear engineering department Kathryn Higley are expelling four-year Ph.D. student Joshua Robinson from OSU at the end of the current academic quarter and turning over the prompt neutron activation analysis facility Joshua built for his thesis work and all of his work in progress to Higley’s husband, Steven Reese. Reese, an instructor in the department, has stated that he will use these things for his own professional gain. Joshua’s apparatus, which he built and added to the OSU nuclear reactor with the guidance and ideas of his mentor, Michael Hartman, earned Joshua the award for best Masters of Nuclear Engineering thesis at OSU and has been widely complimented by scientists at prominent U.S. nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, faculty member Todd Palmer notified four-year Ph.D. student Bethany Robinson (OSU grade point average 3.89) that he was terminating her thesis work and taking all of her work in progress for himself. Some of Bethany’s graduate work has already been used, without credit to Bethany, in the thesis of another favored student now recently hired on the department faculty. […]

My children and I attempted to counter all these actions against us as they unfolded, but were initially uncertain as to their ultimate intent. All became clear, however, when OSU faculty administrators abruptly took a further and very serious prejudicial action toward Joshua. At that point, OSU Professor of Nuclear Engineering Jack Higginbotham, who was privy to all of the meetings and actions, warned us and came to our defense. […]

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. […]

Now nearing success is a disgraceful effort to strip Professor Higginbotham of his faculty position and his research grants. His career now potentially in ruins, he is fighting back in hopes of saving himself and the positions of the students and staff who depend upon him at OSU and who may also lose their careers as collateral damage in these astonishing events.

In response to these claims, OSU has released a statement vaguely refuting Robinson’s claims, but because of the limitations with FERPA, the university is not legally allowed to disclose information on the grades or academic status of individual students. The release does, however, state that the information regarding individual professors mentioned in his editorial was “baseless and unfounded”:

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. Given that, OSU will not comment on any allegation regarding the Robinson students or share any personal information concerning them other than the limited “directory information” allowed by law to be shared.

Robinson’s material singles out several individual faculty members for criticism. The university has found no factual basis for the accusations made against those faculty members. OSU is proud of its education and research programs and faculty in Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics and of department alumni, many of whom hold leadership positions in government and private sector organizations.

OSU will not comment on other allegations made in the Robinson posts other than to say the claims made therein are baseless and without merit.

Whether or not Robinson’s claims are true remains to be seen, but it does bring up an interesting question about the relationship between administrators and students. Charles Martin at Pajamas Media points out this paragraph of Robinson’s diatribe in particular:

OSU administrators think they can violate ethical academic standards of professional conduct, break formal OSU rules and regulations, and even violate U.S. laws with impunity because, in any resulting litigation, they would be defended by lawyers from the Oregon Department of Justice, assuring that only students with huge sums of money and many years to invest in litigation can oppose them. The Robinsons do not have those huge sums of money, and, moreover, they want to complete their education – not receive money in exchange for the destruction of their education and opportunities.

With all this talk of restructuring, transparency, accountability and access to higher education in Oregon, it will be interesting to see how this manifests. As none of them have yet reported on the story, it seems the majority of Oregon media outlets are regarding Robinson’s claims as inane ramblings from a failed candidate trying to hang on to relevance. But if the claims prove to be true, it could mean a lot in regards to the state of Oregon’s higher education system.

Additionally, if any of our OSU readers know anything about the story, the professors or the Robinson kids, don’t hesitate to email: editor AT oregoncommentator DOT com.

Hat tip to Owen over at Pajamas Media for the tip.


UO Matters points us to this website in support of Robinson’s claims, and says the news will be all over it tomorrow. I suppose we’ll see what the Oregon media can uncover.

  1. Lisa B. says:

    It would be interesting to find out how many other students have had similar action taken against them by the university. I hope Mr. Robinson is 100% lawyered up because OSU sure as hell is.

  2. geoff barrett says:

    Stone & Betz, first, you are taking at face value that the allegations are true. We don’t know the story behind this, but OSU claims they are not true. Is it true that these students have been informed that they are going to be dropped? Art Robinson himself said today he has no evidence. Every department has its intrigue and jockeying for position. We need a lot more to go on to decide that there is even any action going on against any of the Robinson clan. Speaking as one who did not, and is unlikely in the future to, support Art Robinson’s political aspirations, I hope these claims prove to be false. If his children are suffering such retaliation, that would indeed be unfortunate and despicable. I find the claims to be implausible though. I wish the best for Art and his family…I just hope he chooses to not run for office again!

  3. Rod Fabian says:

    I trust that OSU isn’t stupid enough to pull anything like Robinson alleges. If they did there would be holy hell to pay. Doing such a thing to all three of Robinson’s children would make the university’s position completely untenable. It would be the worst example of academic administrative misconduct to ever come down the pike, and after the legal papers settled the Robinsons would be set for life.

  4. Rob Spooner says:

    I first ran across this story at Watts Up With That, a blog catering to AGW skeptics. I am one, which means I don’t like to see flimsy evidence raised to the status of settled science.

    So it was disturbing to see there, as I see here, people taking no evidence except the unsupported statements of an interested party and escalating into moral outrage. What strikes me most is the complete unlikeliness of this scenario. Unless you believe that DeFazio will reciprocate by somehow getting more research money for OSU, there isn’t anyone in this who benefits. Least of all DeFazio.

    I’m going to wait and see what comes out. If it turns out as I expect, the Republican Party should be planning damage control in the form of a respectable alternative candidate in the 2012 primary.

  5. Java says:

    Hmmm…along with the President’s brother-in-law. I believe he was named head basketball coach a month before the election.

  6. Kenny Ocker says:

    Nothing says “Democrat stronghold” quite like Oregon State University. (Hint: It’s where most of my conservative friends from high school went.)

  7. Cadell says:

    Being a graduate student in the OSU department of question, I disagree with the Stone comment about finding the issue “curious.” Matthew Robinson’s graduate progress is under no threat. The issues revolving around Joshua and Bethany are separated by at least six months and the only person that claims that they are a coincidence is their father. THERE IS NO VENDETTA towards the Robinsons.

    Another point is that OSU does not have a method of expulsion. For Art Robinson to say that his students are nearing expulsion, is not true because no mechanism exists to conduct such and act.

    On Betz’s point about the transfer of the work, if something were stolen from a Graduate Student and given to someone else that would be wrong. Being in that position, I am careful about how I share my ideas. But the statement about Joshua’s “facility” being taken from him is false. He never owned it. The project sponsor has always owned it. While Joshua did conduct a large portion of the facility construction, he was paid to do so. It was his job to work on the facility, as it is my job to work on a different facility within the department. So to claim that Dr. Higley is taking Joshua’s facility and giving it to someone else, is not true because the original sponsor owns that facility today as they owned it last year and that owner is neither a Robinson, a Higley, or a Reese.

  8. Kalitias says:

    well if a politician said it then it must be true

  9. PrattStreet says:

    Is Mike woodman any different from what Ghaddafi is alleged to be by his critics in the U.S. Senate?

  10. Java says:

    With that all-presuming attitude, I hope Mike Woodman doesn’t vote…

  11. Betz says:

    @Woodman: Is this satire? Stone’s right: What makes it OK for any institution – especially a publicly funded one! – to retaliate against its own members for their political alignments, constituencies, or personal beliefs?

    I agree on the implausibility theory; I find it more than just suspicious that all three of the siblings are being targeted for expulsion at the OSU. I also wanted to point out that it is also highly suspicious (not to mention unethical, and possibly illegal!) for a dept. chairman (Higley) to strip said expelled student and then take that student’s work / apparatus / progress / credit on a recognized project … and then turn it over to her husband (Reese)!

    Something does not add up here, and I am very curious about the outcome of this story.

  12. Stone says:

    To Mike Woodman:
    I am very disappointed to hear your sentiments. So you think its ok for a publicly funded University to bully people who don’t subscribe to political orthodoxy? And here I was foolish enough to believe that a University should actually be a marketplace of ideas! Thank you for setting us straight! Just remember your sentiments when the political winds are blowing in the opposite direction. You, who would happily trample upon the rights of others in the name of ideology, deserve NO protection for your own views!

  13. Stone says:

    Doesn’t anyone find it curious, that not just ONE but TWO and possibly all THREE of the Robinsons are facing separation from OSU and their graduate work? If only one of the siblings was being dismissed, I would probably say “oh well, he/she must have done something wrong.” TWO of the siblings facing dismissal renders the situation highly suspect at best. If all THREE are suffering the threat of sanction, I find highly improbable that this could be anything but a politically motivated vendetta. The numbers and the curiosity of it, certainly makes it look like something is not on the “up and up” at OSU!

  14. Mike Woodman says:

    If this is actually happening, I applaud OSU. I have no problem, anymore, with political retaliation. Actions have consequences and the ‘Thugs should realize this.

  15. NE Student 5433 says:

    Nice on the articles quotes and comments. I am interested in the outcome of this. The failed side of Art’s story is there is no claim on the faculty’s justification. Well not much, anyhow. But it would be unfortunate for the students to lose such degree opportunities. Hopefully their -apparent- mistakes don’t cost them. But you would expect most people know by this stage in their academic career when not to screw up on a school funded event [trip], or such.

  16. anon says:

    You should hope OSU has enough money for the damages. If true, this would violate an unholy number of torts…

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