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Four to Receive Honorary Degrees at Clarkson University This Spring

Jan D. Achenbach, the Walter P. Murphy and Distinguished McCormick School Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University; Helen Greiner, founder and CTO of CyPhy Works, Inc.; Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE; and David Reh ’62, owner and managing partner of Ravenwood Golf Club will be awarded honorary degrees by Clarkson University, this spring.

Clarkson University's May 2016 Commencement.A renowned scientist and engineer, Jan D. Achenbach is one of the few to have received both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology, both awarded by the president of the United States. He has made great contributions to the general area of waves in elastic solids over a half century and for the last 30 years has been concerned with ultrasonics, particularly for applications to evaluation and structural health monitoring of structures such as aircraft, bridges and nuclear reactors.

Helen Greiner, a serial robotics entrepreneur, co-founded and for 18 years served as chairman and president of iRobot Corporation, which revolutionized cleaning with the introduction and sale of the Roomba Vacuuming Robot, and also delivered the first robots to remediate IEDs in combat, which were credited by the Army with saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers and thousands of civilians. In 2008, Greiner founded CyPhy Works, a drone company delivering persistent drones that fly for many hours, days, weeks at a time autonomously.

Jeffrey R. Immelt is the ninth chairman of GE, a post he has held since 2001. He has held several global leadership positions since coming to GE in 1982, including roles in GE's Plastics, Appliances, and Healthcare businesses. Immelt has been named one of the "World's Best CEOs" three times by Barron's. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

A 1962 Clarkson alumnus and benefactor, David Reh was the founder of Gorbel Inc. and Retrotech Inc., material handling equipment manufacturers, as well as Raytec Group. Under Reh's chairmanship, Gorbel was named the 2009 Exporter of the Year by the New York State Small Business Development Center and the 2006 International Business of the Year by the Rochester Business Alliance. In 2011, Reh was inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame. He is currently the owner and managing partner of Ravenwood Golf Club in Rochester, New York.

Achenbach, Immelt and Reh will be awarded their degrees during commencement exercises on Clarkson's main campus in Potsdam on May 13. Greiner will receive her degree at Clarkson's Capital Region Campus commencement on June 9 in Schenectady.

“Nominations often reflect the University’s mission to strive to attune ourselves to our global pluralistic society,” said Provost Charles E. Thorpe, chair of the honorary degree committee. “Through their personal achievements and vision, honorary degree recipients can inspire graduates to see the world through the lives of others and the potential to impact something larger than themselves.”

The nomination and evaluation process leading up to recipients of honorary degrees has been reinvigorated as nominations are actively solicited from the greater Clarkson community; reviewed by a committee with faculty, staff, students and alumni representation; approved by the Faculty Senate; and then forwarded in an annual slate to the board of trustees for final consideration.

“As we reenergize and reinvigorate our process to seek truly outstanding candidates, I encourage the greater Clarkson community to bring forward nominations,” said President Tony Collins.

Nominations should reflect individuals who have made outstanding achievements and contributions to an academic discipline or to society through their body of work, either through sustained efforts over a period of time, or as evidenced by one or more significant accomplishments. Contributions to society may also include outstanding contributions to the University. More information is at

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, 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 innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University's May 2016 Commencement.

[A photograph for media use is available at]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or]

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