Following a four-year enlistment in the United States Navy, William Robbins earned a B.S. degree from Western Connecticut State University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Oregon. Interspersed with his graduate work were teaching experiences in public schools in Oregon and Maine. After a two-year stint at Western Oregon University, he joined the faculty at Oregon State University in 1971 where he has taught courses in the History of the American West and Environmental History.
Robbins professional appointments include: editor of Environmental History (1986-1988); the council of the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association (1980-1983 and 2000-2003), Council of the Western History Association (1997-2000), and editorial boards of the Pacific Historical Review (1987-1990), Pacific Northwest Quarterly (1995-1998), and Oregon Historical Quarterly (1996- ). He has served on program committees of several professional organizations, including the Western History Association, the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, and the Pacific Northwest History Conference. During fall semester 2001, he served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Idaho.
Robbins has won awards for the publication of best articles in the Journal of Forest History (1984) and Western Historical Quarterly (1985) and in 1997 Oregon State University named him Distinguished Professor of History. His most recent book, The People’s School: A History of Oregon State University, was published in late 2017 to commemorate the institution's sesquicentennial as a land-grant school. He is presently working on a history of the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest.
(OSU Press, 2015)
Nature's Northwest: The North Pacific Slope in the 20th Century
(University of Arizona Press, 2011)
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