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Carnegie Mellon Senior Leader and White House Fellow Charles E. "Chuck" Thorpe Named Senior Vice President and Provost at Clarkson University

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Charles E. “Chuck” Thorpe has been named the senior vice president and provost at Clarkson University, effective July 10, 2012.

Charles E. “Chuck” Thorpe, senior vice president and provost at Clarkson UniversityThorpe is a professor and former head of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU); the founding dean and CEO of CMU’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar; and currently serves as a White House Fellow and assistant director for advanced manufacturing and robotics in the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Executive Office of the President.

Clarkson President Tony Collins made the announcement to the Clarkson community earlier this week.

“Dr. Thorpe is a gifted and energetic leader who brings to Clarkson incredible experience across the entire spectrum of university life,” said President Collins. “With a passion for teaching, a distinguished record of groundbreaking research in robotics and personal experience opening a campus abroad, he is the ideal partner to join and inspire the University community as we continue to advance the ambitious goals in our strategic plan.”

“Clarkson reaches the world through the remarkable quality of its faculty, staff, students and alumni as evidenced in the number of prestigious awards earned every year and their contributions to society,” Thorpe said.

“Clarkson engages its community in ways that much larger institutions just can’t match and uses its smaller size to be a powerful force for interdisciplinary collaboration and connections to the world beyond its campus borders. My wife, Leslie, and I truly are excited to become a part of this exceptional setting.”
At the White House, Thorpe is helping to coordinate policy and budget decisions across the administration, as well as helping to set policies for future initiatives at agencies that include  the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Transportation, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture.

From 2004 to 2010, Thorpe was the founding dean and CEO of Carnegie Mellon University in Doha, Qatar, offering Carnegie Mellon undergraduate degrees in computer science, business administration and information systems and responsible for setting up the new campus.

As the Qatar campus leader, Thorpe oversaw a great amount of change, growing the campus in six years from 41 undergraduate students and a handful of faculty and staff, to 246 undergraduate students, 42 students enrolled in certificate programs, 67 alumni and more than 100 faculty and staff members. Under Thorpe, the campus added a third major, information systems, to its curriculum of business administration and computer science courses.

“We at Carnegie Mellon wish Chuck Thorpe much success at Clarkson University.  In all of his roles at CMU since joining the faculty in 1984, he has proven himself over and over as a visible and approachable leader who encourages collaboration and problem-solving.  He has left a lasting imprint on the CMU Robotics Institute and our campus in Qatar,” said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University.

In 2005, Thorpe and his son, Leland, headed up the launch of the BOTBALL high school robotics program for thousands of students -- both boys and girls -- across the Middle East, as a result of Thorpe's passion for artificial intelligence, robotics and teaching.

Thorpe also initiated numerous strategic partnerships with local and multinational organizations, and, at the request of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, chairperson of Qatar Foundation, Thorpe served as the sole Education City dean on the Qatar National Research Fund steering committee.

Before heading overseas, from 2000 to 2004 Thorpe served as director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, overseeing approximately 40 faculty, 100 Ph.D. students, and $40-million-dollar-a-year sponsored research budget, and was the founding head of its robotics master's program. For the 20 years prior, Thorpe served on the faculty of the Robotics Institute.

Thorpe received his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon, and is one of the university's first alumni to pursue a career in robotics. He received his bachelor of arts degree in natural science from North Park College in Chicago.

Thorpe's research focuses on the development of outdoor robotic vehicles. During his tenure at the Robotics Institute, Thorpe and his Navlab research group built a series of robotic cars, trucks and buses for military and civilian research.

Thorpe's proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop techniques for driving in hazardous environments resulted in a grant funding the development of Navlab 1, a passenger van that drove autonomously. Other robot cars included Army Humvees, American passenger vehicles and buses for the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The buses and other vehicles took part in the U.S. Department of Transportation's 1997 National Automated Highway Systems Consortium Demonstration, which showcased the technical feasibility of automated vehicles, driving themselves in closed tracks across the United States.

Thorpe is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the IEEE Robotics Society, and has published five books, five book chapters, and many peer-reviewed publications.

Thomas E. Young, Clarkson provost for the past seven years and a member of the faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 1977, announced last spring his intention to retire at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO or senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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