Carnegie Mellon University

Joel Tarr

June 24, 2022

Congratulations to Joel Tarr on his Retirement!

Professor Joel A. Tarr, a Steinbrenner Institute Faculty Affiliate, has been at Carnegie Mellon University since the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and the university became known as Carnegie Mellon University. For the past five and a half decades, Professor Tarr has taken on various roles at CMU and has received countless achievements for his work. After his incredulous amount of service to the university, he has now retired as of spring 2022.

Professor Tarr served as the Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History and Policy in the Department of History with joint appointments in the School of Public Policy and Management and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy before retiring. Previous positions he held during his time at CMU include acting dean of the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, associate dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, acting dean of the Dietrich College, and acting head of the Department of History.

He “studies the environmental history of cities and the history and impact of their technological systems,” “is particularly interested in using history to understand contemporary problems,” and has many publications on the topics. Professor Tarr taught classes like Perspectives on the Urban Environment and Pittsburgh and the Transformation of Modern Urban America and also supported over 24 doctoral dissertations. He has won many prestigious awards for his work, including the Society for History of Technology Leonardo da Vinci Medal (2008), American Society for Environmental History Distinguished Service Award (2015), National Council on Public History Founders Award (2018).

An event celebrating Professor Tarr was held on May 6, 2022 on the Baker Hall Patio. During the event colleagues recounted the profound impact he has had on all of their lives, and three of his former students, who all have gone on to become distinguished leaders in their fields, spoke of Professor Tarr’s remarkable career, his appreciation for thorough research and good writing, and his continuous support and mentorship. To honor his 50+ years of service to CMU, the history conference room has been renamed the Joel A. Tarr Conference Room. The room can be found on the second floor of Baker Hall at 246A.