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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3 | Faculty
Robert Hughson
Electrical Engineering, Engineering Science and Physics

Colville, Washington, Robert Hughson grew up on a grain and cattle ranch still owned by his family today. With a father known for service and leadership in the community, Hughson took all the hard work and giving attitude to heart — and into his work as a professor at Seattle Pacific for 43 years.

An SPC student in the 1950s and not interested in becoming a rancher, Hughson was unsure about his future profession. “I tried a lot of different things,” he says. When he discovered his aptitude for physics, though, he didn’t look back.

After his graduation, Hughson was awarded an Atomic Energy Commission Radiological Physics Fellowship at the University of Washington (UW). For his master’s thesis in nuclear engineering, he researched the scattering of heavy ions. Then, in early 1960, Hughson got a call from Donald Kerlee, professor of physics at Seattle Pacific. The College needed another physics professor for a year. “It’s been a long year,” says Hughson, laughing.

Since joining the Seattle Pacific faculty, Hughson not only chaired the Department of Physics and Engineering Science, but he also designed and implemented an electronics laboratory for the “Physics for Nurses” course; established a course sequence in electronics that served biology, chemistry, physics and engineering science; and managed the laboratory in Miller Science Learning Center when it opened in 1977. A consummate educator, he received a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellowship at the UW.

Off campus, Hughson and his wife, Rosalee Fletcher Hughson ’60, have been active in Seattle’s First Free Methodist Church. They are undoubtedly part of the reason why all three of their children hold degrees from SPU. Even in retirement, Hughson says he will continue to study how things work. “I plan to do a lot of real serious puttering,” he explains. “I like to make things go. That’s one of the reasons I liked the lab. You could come up with a lot of things to amuse yourself.”

Q: What’s one of your favorite things a student ever said to you?
Hughson: I had a student come back after 25 years and say the best thing I’d done for him was to tell him he was going to flunk out of school if he didn’t
shape up.

Q: As a professor, what have you learned from your students?
Hughson: The first thing I learned was to never put a problem on a test until you’ve worked it out yourself.

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