Emeritus Appointment

Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History

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Following a four-year enlistment in the United States Navy, William Robbins earned an undergraduate degree from Western Connecticut State University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Oregon. After a two-year stint at Western Oregon University, he joined the faculty at Oregon State University in 1971 where he taught courses in the History of the American West, History of the American Indian. 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 (1996-2013). 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 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.

Select Publications


The People's School: A History of Oregon State University

(OSU Press, 2017)


 Monroe Sweetland:  A Man for All Seasons  

A Man for All Seasons:
Monroe Sweetland and the Liberal Paradox

(OSU Press, 2015)

Nature's Northwest:
The North Pacific Slope in the 20th Century

(University of Arizona Press, 2011)

 Nature's Northwest
This Storied Land  Oregon: This Storied Land
(Oregon Historical Society Press, 2006)
Hard Times In Paradise:
Coos Bay, Oregon

(University of Washington Press, Revised Second Edition, 2006)
 Hard Times in Paradise
Landscapes of Conflict Landscapes of Conflict:
The Oregon Story, 1940-2000

(University of Washington Press, 2004)
Landscapes of Promise:
The Oregon Story, 1800-1940

(University of Washington Press, 1997)
 Landscapes of Promise
Colony and Empire Colony and Empire:
The Capitalist Transformation
of the American West

(University Press Of Kansas, 1994)