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CMU, Local Leaders Honor Rep. Mike Doyle's 28-Year Legacy

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Peter Kerwin
University Communications & Marketing

Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jananian(opens in new window), along with CMU faculty and private and public sector leaders from across Western Pennsylvania, gathered in Simmons Auditorium in the Tepper Building to honor U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who is retiring at the end of his term this month.

In addition to CMU faculty and staff, speakers included Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive; Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development; Lisa Schroeder, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation; and Ken Gormley, president of Duquesne University.

"[Mike's] fingerprints are all over this town, for the decades that he has served us in Washington," said Fitzgerald. "I cannot thank him enough for the work he has done on behalf of all of us here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, in making life better for the next generation of Pittsburghers."

When Doyle was first elected, the world was just beginning to see the impact of the internet. At that time, Pittsburgh was trying to find its footing in the transition from a steel-based economy to one that’s now rooted in technology, life sciences, education and the renaissance of manufacturing.

"Mike recognized better than anyone else how the unprecedented scope, scale and pace of innovation would come to transform society and our economy," Jahanian said. "More importantly, he understood how intentional we needed to be to leverage the power of this transition to benefit the region and all of its citizens."

Doyle began his political career in Swissvale, a borough east of Pittsburgh, as a councilman. He later became chief of staff to Republican State Senator Frank Pecora. In 1994, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has served Western Pennsylvania and the nation ever since.

"The impact of Congressman Doyle has been truly, extraordinary and profoundly widespread," said Jahanian. "While the district he’s represented has been centered in Allegheny County, every corner of our region has benefited from his leadership, as have the commonwealth as well as the nation."


Rep. Mike Doyle speaks at the podium.


Patti Rote, program manager in the Robotics Institute and co-founder of Girls of Steel, CMU President Farnam Jahanian, Stefani Pashman, CEO, Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Rep. Mike Doyle, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, Ken Gormley, President, Duquesne University, Lisa Schroeder, President and CEO, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Red Whittaker, CMU robotics professor.

"Over the course of nearly three decades, we’ve had the privilege of working with the congressman … And I represent an organization that for nearly 80 years likes to take big bets — but it only happens when we have a partnership with the public sector," said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. "And we’ve benefitted from that from Congressman Doyle for all that time. He has been our trusted voice."

Doyle played an essential role in the creation of the National Robotics Engineering Center(opens in new window) (NREC), an operating unit within Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute(opens in new window), and the world’s largest robotics research and development organization.

"Mike got us thinking about, well, 'What would it [NREC] do in a world, really? What would it do for people? What would it do for Pittsburgh? What would it do for jobs? What would it do for the nation?'" said Red Whittaker(opens in new window), Founders University Research Professor in the Robotics Institute. "Those were really very different ways of thinking … There’s just no question that Mike is absolutely, bar none, the most aware, tuned-in, operational influence for robotics in Washington, D.C."

Doyle sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee where he has been working to restore net neutrality and promote the availability of reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband internet service for all Americans. He is also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Autism Caucus, also known as the Coalition for Autism Research and Education (CARE) and is a member of the House Democratic Caucus.

"I realized when I went to Congress, Pittsburgh, we had to diversify our economy. It just struck me that if we’re going to succeed, we’ve got to get past what everybody thinks Pittsburgh was," Doyle said. "The key to that, I always thought, was building these partnerships … I’ve been in both parties and what I’ve realized about Pittsburgh: We’re kind of a pragmatic group of people. I never really cared who got credit for it, whether it was Republicans or Democrats, I just care if we got it done."

Stefani Pashman

Stefani Pashman speaks at the podium.

Mike Doyle and the Girls of Steel

Rep. Doyle and the Girls of Steel make a Rosie the Riveter(opens in new window) pose.

Doyle has also been a strong supporter of Girls of Steel(opens in new window), an outreach program that strives to help to close the gender gap in STEM by exposing high school students to robotics. Ava Miller, a ninth grader at Plum Senior High School east of Pittsburgh, attended the event as a member of Girls of Steel. "(Being here at the event) is a way to say thanks and show our respect for the support we've been given over the years. It's just another incredible thing that this connection with Mike Doyle has given us over the years," she said.

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