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May 7: Page and Whittaker Receive University's Highest Faculty Honor


Teresa Thomas

Carnegie Mellon Selects Professors Page and Whittaker
To Receive University's Highest Faculty Honor    

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University professors Robert Page and William L. "Red" Whittaker have been named University Professors, the highest distinction faculty can achieve at Carnegie Mellon.     

Page is the Paul Mellon Professor of Music and director of choral studies in the College of Fine Arts, and Whittaker is the Fredkin Research Professor of Robotics in the Robotics Institute.    

"The University Professors are truly the 'best of the best' among our faculty," said Carnegie Mellon Provost and Senior Vice President Mark Kamlet. "Robert Page and Red Whittaker are exceptionally deserving of this honor, each having made exceptional contributions to their fields as well as outstanding contributions and leadership to the university."    

Robert PageFew choral directors in the country have reputations as outstanding as Page, who joined the School of Music faculty in 1975. He has conducted many of the major U.S. orchestras, including those in Houston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Dallas, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Virginia and San Antonio, as well as the opera companies of Cleveland, Kansas City and Toledo. He conducted several national radio and television broadcasts for the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra from 1971 to 1989. Page has also led such prominent choral organizations as Chorus America and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, which he has directed for 26 years.

Page was deemed "a national treasure" by the American Record Guide and named Pennsylvania's Artist of the Year by Governor Tom Ridge in 1998. He has received numerous academic awards, including the Danforth Teachers Study Grant and Temple's Lindbach Award for Distinguished Teaching.     

His work is available on more than 40 discs issued by major recording companies, such as Columbia, London, RCA, Telarc and Decca. He is an eight-time Grammy Award nominee and a two-time Grammy winner for his recordings of "Catulli Carmina" and "Carmina Burana."    

"It is very difficult to encapsulate in a few words just how remarkable Robert Page is as a professional musician, as a leader in the field, as a beloved teacher and as a university colleague," said Marilyn Taft Thomas, interim head of the Carnegie Mellon's School of Music. "He is an amazing artist who, on a daily basis, puts Carnegie Mellon on the world stage. There have been two legendary choral conductors in this century — one is the late Robert Shaw and the other is our own Robert Page. He is truly a world-class artist and a phenomenal teacher."    

Page earned his bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian College and his master's degree from Indiana University.     

Red WhittakerWhittaker has earned worldwide acclaim for developing mobile robots that work in unpredictable environments, like the interiors of abandoned coalmines, the craters of live volcanoes or inside the damaged nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island. He is founder of the Robotics Institute's Field Robotics Center and the National Robotics Engineering Center.     

During his 24-year career, Whittaker and his colleagues have developed more than 60 robots, breaking new ground in space exploration, hazardous waste remediation, agriculture and the development of autonomous vehicle technology that ultimately will impact the cars and trucks on our nation's highways. He is also an outstanding teacher who has inspired countless students and shepherded more than 23 of them through the Ph.D. process.

Whittaker leads Tartan Racing, Carnegie Mellon's team that will compete this fall in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Urban Challenge, the third in a series of races to foster development of autonomous robot vehicles. He is also the chief scientist of Workhorse Technologies, a company that pioneers the development of mobile robots for hazardous work environments.     

Science Digest named Whittaker one of the top 100 U.S. innovators for his work in robotics. In 1994, he received the Pittsburgh Vectors Man of the Year in Technology Award and the Laurels Award for outstanding achievement from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. He is also a recipient of Carnegie Mellon's Teare Award for teaching excellence and the university's Alumni Merit Award for outstanding achievement. In 1998, he received a special achievement award from Design News magazine, and Fortune named him a "Hero of U.S. Manufacturing" in a 1999 feature story. In 2002, he received the Joseph Engelberger Award for outstanding achievement in robotics. Last year, he received a Catalyst Award from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center.     

"Red Whittaker is a true visionary, and one of the great leaders in our field. In fact, he is often called the 'Father of Field Robotics,'" said Matt Mason, director of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. "It was Red who first saw the potential for robotics in space exploration, mining, agriculture and other field applications. And, most important, Red assembled the teams and the resources to push the field forward — one outstanding robot after another. Red is an inspiration to everybody in the Robotics Institute."    

Whittaker received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Princeton University and his master's and doctor's degrees in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon.