Clarkson Mourns Past Trustee Walt Robb, the Capital Region’s first victim of COVID-19

It is with more than a heavy heart that we share that Past Trustee Walt Robb has passed away.  Trustee Robb, who fell ill last week, is the first confirmed fatality in the Capital Region from the global COVID-19 pandemic.  His wife, Anne, is also believed to be impacted by the disease.  The Times Union article is here:  As the article fittingly shares, “ A Clarkson University trustee, he helped broker the uniting of Clarkson and Union Graduate College.”

From our own biographical profile on Dr. Robb, he was among the Union Graduate College trustees who joined our Clarkson Board in 2015 as part of the merger activities and served through the Winter Meeting of 2019. His leadership and connections have been instrumental to Clarkson’s growth in graduate programs and presence in New York’s Capital Region.   At 92 years young, he was a management consultant and President of Vantage Management, Inc.

Prior to forming Vantage, Dr. Robb was Senior Vice-President for Corporate Research and Development (R&D) of General Electric Company from 1986 to 1992. He directed the Schenectady, NY based GE Research and Development Center, one of the world’s largest and most diversified industrial laboratories. At this corporate-level facility, some 1,650 people including more than 1,000 scientists, engineers, and technicians from virtually every major scientific and engineering discipline, concentrate their efforts on the company’s longer-range R&D needs.  Under Dr. Robb’s leadership, the R&D Center changed the way its work was funded by the company. That change made the Center more responsive to long-range business strategies, and more capable of carrying out exploratory research beyond the current needs of those businesses.

Prior to assuming his Senior Vice-President role at GE, Dr. Robb was General Manager of GE Medical Systems for 13 years. He directed the organization’s growth into the world’s leading producer of medical diagnostic imaging equipment, building it into a billion-dollar-plus per year advance technology business with a total of approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. Under his management, GE introduced computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) scanners that are now established as the standards in diagnostic imaging. Also under his leadership, GE Medical Systems progressed from producing only X-Ray equipment to featuring a full line of products in ultrasound, nuclear medicine, CT, and MR, as well as X-Ray.  Dr. Robb joined General Electric in 1951 and also served as a chemical engineer, Manager of the Center’s Chemical Process branch, Manager of Research and Development, General Manager of Silicone Products Department, General Manager of Medical Systems Division, and Vice President.  Dr. Robb held 12 patents dealing with permeable membranes and separation processes and is the author of more than a score of articles published in professional journals. His research won him six I-R 100 Awards, sponsored by Industrial Research magazine, for the most significant new technical innovations of the year.

Dr. Robb received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois in 1951, an M.S. degree from the University of Illinois in 1951, and a B.S. degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1948.  Dr. Robb was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society. In 1989 he became the first recipient of the Medical Technology Leadership Award presented by the Diagnostic Imaging and Therapy Systems Division of the National Electric Manufacturers Association. In September 1993, he received the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton for his leadership in the CT and MR imaging industry. In 1988 Worcester Polytechnic Institute awarded him an honorary doctor of engineering degree and in 1994 he received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering.  He was an avid investor in a dozen other local start-ups, a co-founder of “U-Start” Schenectady’s High-Tech Incubator. For excitement, he owned the  Albany River Rats in the American Hockey League. In 1987 he was presented with Pennsylvania State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Other recognitions include “Executive of the Year” by the Capital District Business Review in 1998 and a 2003 Business Hall of Fame Inductee by the Northeast New York Junior Achievement.

On the Clarkson Board, he served on the Development and Internal Affairs Committees.  Dr. Robb was also on the Boards of Directors Celgene Corp., Mechanical Technology Inc., and several private high-tech companies.

As more information becomes available on services and memorials, we will share that information.  Our Board Relations Office will forward messages to his family.  Please send these to Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations & Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees,

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