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Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tapped by Carnegie Mellon University

Natasha Lindstrom
| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, 7:15 p.m.
Anthony Foxx served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under the Obama administration, replacing Ray Hood in 2013.
Anthony Foxx served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under the Obama administration, replacing Ray Hood in 2013.

Carnegie Mellon University has tapped former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to help guide students and faculty in making connections between transportation and public policy issues, officials said Thursday.

Foxx — who served as the nation’s transportation chief under the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017 — has been appointed as a distinguished executive-in-residence for the 2018-19 academic year at the university based in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

“It’s an honor to be joining an institution that is at the forefront of using technology and policy to transform city life,” Foxx said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing my passion with the CMU community and sharing our model for innovative future cities with the world.”

Foxx will be working with CMU’s College of Engineering, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute.

The formal position does not mean that Foxx, who has a home in New York, will relocate to Pittsburgh, but Foxx has committed to making several trips to the campus — starting with a visit Friday morning to celebrate the opening of a new building for the Tepper School of Business.

Executives-in-residence roles are special positions aimed to leverage the expertise of individuals across industries who may not have the time to take on a full-time job as a professor.

The full scope of Foxx’s duties still is being discussed, but his contributions will include guest lectures, panels and various forms of collaboration with students and faculty researchers, said Jon Nehlsen, associate dean of Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

“He’s a very accomplished guy, and we are happy to have him be part of our family,” said Nehlsen, noting Foxx made multiple visits to CMU during his time as Education secretary.

Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan said Foxx will provide “real-world applications and strategic counsel on our smart city initiatives.”

“We look forward to welcoming him as a member of our CMU community,” Krishnan said, “and receiving his valuable input on policy and guidance on smart city research to help us scale efforts that will drive innovation and societal impact.”

Foxx earned a law degree from New York University before working as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department, counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and a law clerk to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge Nathaniel Jones.

He was Charlotte’s mayor from 2009 until 2013, when President Barack Obama appointed him to replace Ray Hood as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

During his tenure, Foxx helped the Obama administration pass its first transportation bill, develop the Build America Bureau and advocate for new rules and policies governing the use of drones and autonomous vehicles.

“His connections from the federal government and his time in Charlotte will be really interesting,” Nehlsen said.

James Garrett, dean of the College of Engineering, said his school will benefit from Foxx’s “knowledge of local economies, intertwined with his awareness of environmental factors and support of innovative technologies.”

Friday morning, during the 2018 INTERSECT@CMU Conference, Foxx will sit on a moderated panel titled, “At the Intersection of Technology and Business: Smart Home, Smart Car, Smart City.”

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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