Our Story

The Early Entrance Program (EEP) was created in 1977 by the late Dr. Halbert Robinson, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Washington. The goal of the EEP from its inception was to enable a small and carefully selected group of academically advanced middle school students to accelerate into post-secondary education at a pace equal to their intellectual development. Dr. Nancy Robinson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, assumed directorship of the Center following Dr. Hal Robinson’s death in 1981, stewarding the Center until her retirement in 2000.

In 2001, the Robinson Center and the University of Washington Honors Program partnered to create the UW Academy for Young Scholars. The first class of Academy students enrolled at the University of Washington in 2002.

The Washington Search for Young Scholars was created in 2003 to identify and work with Washington’s most capable students, their families, and schools to develop more opportunities for academically gifted young people.

Summer programs were first offered at the Robinson Center in the 1980’s. The Robinson Center’s summer programs have expanded to include classes for students in grades 5-10, and serve as a model for summer academic commuter programs.

The Robinson Center is a growing and evolving organization committed to the development of Washington’s brightest students.

Previous Directors of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars

Nancy M. RobinsonĀ directed the Center from 1981 until her retirement in 2000. Dr. Robinson is Professor Emerita of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Clinical Psychology from Stanford University in 1958. Dr. Robinson moved to the UW in 1969 from the University of North Carolina. Known previously for her work in mental retardation, her research interests since 1981, after the death of the Center’s founder and her husband, Halbert Robinson, have focused on the effects of marked academic acceleration to college, adjustment issues of gifted children, and verbal and mathematical precocity in very young children. Until 2008, she provided assessment and counseling with gifted children and their families through the Robinson Center. In 1998, she was given the Distinguished Scholar Award, and in 2007, the Ann Isaacs Founders Memorial Award, both by the National Association for Gifted Children. In the Seattle community, she serves on the boards of two independent schools, and as a special advocate for several children who are dependents of the State.

Kathleen D. NobleĀ directed the Center from 2000-2008. Dr. Noble is currently a Professor of Women Studies at the University of Washington. She first joined the Robinson Center in 1989 as the Psychologist and Assistant Director for the Early Entrance Program. She has been on the University of Washington faculty since 1990. Dr. Noble received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Counseling Psychology in 1984, and has also studied at the University of Oxford, the University of London, the University of Massachusetts, and Regis College. Dr. Noble’s research focuses on issues of highly capable women and adolescents, the ways in which talents and gifts shape women’s lives in ways that are distinct from men, the efficacy of early entrance to college and university, and the relationship of spirituality to resilience and psychological health. She is the author and editor of several books and research articles, and has lectured throughout the US and abroad about the psycho-social needs of gifted individuals.

John D. Sahr, served as the Robinson Center’s interim Director from 2008 to 2010 while acting as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs at the University of Washington. He is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Space Science. He has a long interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Dr. Sahr is an internationally recognized expert in the field of passive radar, and studies ionospheric turbulence with radio waves. He has authored many articles and book chapters about ionospheric physics, and passive radar technology. He has provided summer research experiences for high school students, and has provided Honors projects for Electrical Engineering students who have come from the Robinson Center. Dr. Sahr has served as the Associate Chair for Education in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen School.