Southeastern remembers professor Jack Robinson

By Jerreck McWilliams, Contributing writer

All of us have someone to whom we owe a debt of thanks.  Be they benefactors, parents or mentors, there is someone whose legacy allows us to be who we are today.

To many of us at Southeastern, students, faculty and staff alike, Dr. Jack Robinson was this person.

Jack Landy Robinson passed away Friday, Feb. 11, at the age of 71.

He was born Jan. 6, 1940 in Durant, to Holland and Elmer (Taylor) Robinson.

Robinson was raised on a dairy farm near Bokchito and graduated from Bokchito High School in 1958. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree, with a double major in chemistry and mathematics, from Southeastern State College in 1962.

In 1966 he obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma and joined the faculty at Southeastern as an assistant professor of chemistry.

During his 42-year tenure, Robinson served as a professor of chemistry, chair of the physical sciences department, director of Institutional Research and Planning, director of Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Program, assistant vice president of academic affairs and graduate dean, interim vice president of academic affairs and special assistant to the president.

Highlights from Robinson’s career include being selected Teacher of the Year by the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity in 1970, being named Outstanding Educator of America in 1972 and 1974 and being co-recipient of a Certificate of Recognition from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Board of Regents of Oklahoma Colleges named Robinson Professor Emeritus of Chemistry in 2000, and in 2009 the Southeastern Alumni Association honored Robinson with the Distinguished Former Faculty Award.

Honors students at Southeastern especially deserve his respect in creating and directing the Honors Program.

According to Dr. Lisa Coleman, current director of the Southeastern Honors Program, “A considerable amount of work in developing the Parsons Program had already been implemented by an Honors Committee that Dr. Robinson had developed out of interested faculty who were committed to the cause of honors.”

This work included gaining scholarship money provided by the university, the state of Oklahoma and by the ongoing Parson’s scholarship.

Honors is by no means the only program to which Robinson contributed significant time and effort in developing.  His other endeavors include writing and acquiring several grants for the department of science, co-founding the benchmark freshman orientation program and contributing to the development of the program review and assessment process.

Many of us at Southeastern will miss Robinson and all that he has given us.

Coleman in particular wanted to express that, “I credit Dr. Jack Robinson for encouraging me in a career path in honors that I did not know anything about and would not have known without his inspiration. He was the sort of person, educator and administrator who can serve as an example to us all. I am most grateful to him for the lessons he taught me in expecting and rewarding excellence and in the compassion and support often needed to help students–and teachers–reach their highest aspirations.”

Robinson is survived by a large and loving family from all over the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, as well as his wife, Southeastern’s Vice President of Student Affairs Sharon Robinson.