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04-08-1998

Late Clarkson V.P. And Civic Leader Remembered With Endowment Fund

[A JPEG photograph of Cotellessa is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/cotell.jpg.]

Potsdam, N.Y. – He was a good friend, a model citizen and a loyal supporter of his University. He was always there for his family, friends and community, and now they want to give something back in his name. The Robert F. Cotellessa Electrical and Computer Engineering Endowment Fund should do that. Recently established by Clarkson faculty and friends, students and family of the late Clarkson vice president and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) professor, the special fund will support undergraduate research projects in Clarkson's ECE Department.Robert F. Cotellessa

As his friends would be the first to tell you, Bob Cotellessa would probably be embarrassed to see his name attached to an endowment fund. He'd be the first person to spearhead the drive, call for volunteers, make a donation, make phone calls– just like he did for the many campus and civic projects he was involved in– but promote himself? Well, Bob was never that sort. He was always there, working steadily and quietly to make sure the project got done, whether it was building a Rotary playground at the daycare center or working on yet another project for the IEEE.

Professor Rangaswamy Mukundan, a close friend of Bob's and one of the initial donors to the endowment, recalls Bob's interest in undergraduate projects. "I vividly remember the first student Bob had who wanted to develop an electronic stethoscope, and had a rough time doing it," says Mukundan. "Bob not only helped with the know-how, but also provided enough support in terms of time, advice and funding for the equipment needed. Now I believe the student is a well-known physician in the Syracuse area.

Bob was my mentor and friend, and I hope by creating this endowment we can celebrate the selfless service personified not only by Bob's activities at Clarkson, but also in the community of Potsdam.

Clarkson University Professor Emeritus Robert F. Cotellessa of Potsdam died last August 23 leaving a huge gap in our community fabric. Bob came to Clarkson in 1968 as professor and chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He served in that capacity until 1980 and also as the chairman of the Systems Engineering Group from 1969-1980. He left to work at his alma mater, Stevens Institute of Technology, from 1980-1984, but returned to Clarkson in 1984 as a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, served as acting dean of Engineering from 1985-1987, and as vice president for Academic and Student Affairs from 1986 to 1988. He was named professor emeritus in 1989. Bob remained a familiar face on campus until his death, maintaining an office in ECE and continuing his activities with the IEEE.

As Bob Cotellessa faithfully provided research projects and support to many undergraduate students for almost three decades, the Robert F. Cotellessa ECE Endowment Fund is a visible reminder of his commitment to higher education, the ECE Department and research opportunities for undergraduates. Bob's friends and family hope that the Fund will realize Bob's goals of improving the quality of undergraduate education and strengthening the overall goals of the University.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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