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08-11-2011

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko of Amsterdam Receives Clarkson University's Top Alumni Honor

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/ptonko.jpg .]

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko of Amsterdam, N.Y., has received the Golden Knight Award from his alma mater, Clarkson University.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, and Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Steve NewkofskyPresented each year during Reunion Weekend, Clarkson's most prestigious alumni award is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves either by service to Clarkson through Alumni Association activities or have demonstrated outstanding career achievement, bringing distinction to themselves and to Clarkson.

Tonko began his service to the citizens of New York shortly after he graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering in 1971. He is the first Clarkson graduate to be elected to the New York State legislature and the first to be elected to Congress.
   
Tonko is serving his second term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York. He brings to Washington, D.C., over two decades of administrative, legislative and policy experience having served in the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007. As president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) from 2007-2008, Tonko worked to advance an aggressive green agenda for businesses and residents throughout New York state.

Tonko is a nationally recognized expert on energy issues. An engineer by training, he served as chairman of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Energy prior to leaving the Assembly to join NYSERDA. As chairman, Tonko fought to protect consumers, fought against utility deregulation and worked to upgrade our aging energy infrastructure.

In Congress, he is a member of the budget committee, where he works to promote investments that create jobs and grow the economy, protect investments in the middle class and help bring down the deficit. Tonko is also a member of the committee on science, space and technology, which merges his energy expertise with his environmental agenda. Serving on subcommittees for energy and environment as well as research and science education, he hopes to create an environment where innovation and cutting-edge research and design promote economic development in the 21st Congressional District.

An advocate for a “green economy” and “green-collar jobs,” Congressman Tonko has promoted wind development in Upstate New York and successfully lobbied GE to locate its growing GE Wind operations in Schenectady, N.Y. In the New York State Assembly, he was a lead sponsor of the Power for Jobs program, which provides low-cost power to employers throughout New York state and has retained or created 300,000 jobs statewide.

Tonko also has strong ties to local government. At age 26, he was the youngest person in the history in Montgomery County to be elected to the county’s Board of Supervisors, serving as chairman until 1981. Prior to his election to the Assembly in 1983, Tonko was an engineer in the New York State Department of Transportation and also served on the staff of the Department of Public Service. He has been a longtime member of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) and proudly serves as the first PEF member elected to Congress.

Tonko is a lifelong resident of Amsterdam, N.Y.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko of Amsterdam, N.Y., has received the Golden Knight Award from his alma mater, Clarkson University. Left to right: Clarkson University President Tony Collins, Tonko, and Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Steve Newkofsky.

[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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