Gratitude motivates gift to Arthur R. Robinson Collaboration Space

Gratitude motivates gift to Arthur R. Robinson Collaboration Space

Art Robinson and Harry West
Harry West, right, with Art Robinson

Harry H. West (PhD 67), professor emeritus at Penn State in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has made a gift to the Arthur R. Robinson Collaboration Space on the Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge, opening this summer. West was motivated by gratitude for the profound impact Robinson had on his life. Robinson (MS 53, PhD 56), who died in 2015, taught for 32 years on the faculty of CEE at Illinois.

“He was a superb advisor, consistently patient and available to guide me,” West wrote in a tribute to Robinson. “He was also a great mentor who modeled how to navigate with excellence through the conflicting demands of academia. But above all, he was a kind and sensitive person who looked out for my welfare through some of the most trying times of my life.”

West’s essay describes his long acquaintance with Robinson, beginning when West was a child and Robinson was a college student participating in a summer civil engineering camp in New Jersey, for which West’s father was the resident superintendent. Later, when West came to Illinois as a graduate student in the 1960s, his assigned academic adviser was, coincidentally, Robinson. West describes Robinson as a brilliant and rigorous teacher and researcher, as well as a kind and supportive mentor with a self-deprecating sense of humor about his perpetually disordered office and his stutter.

“His lectures were interesting and challenging, his pace was brisk, and there was no fluff,” West wrote. “He always treated his students with respect, thoroughly answered their questions, and graded the assigned problems and exams with care, returning them in a timely way. He was truly professorial without being condescending; he was intellectual but not arrogant; and he was a gentleman without any pretense.”

Read Harry West's full tribute here >>

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