Carnegie Mellon University

Letter from the President

The following letter from Dr. Cohon was sent to the university community on February 15, 2012:

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community:

I’m writing to share the good news that with 16 months to go in our Inspire Innovation Campaign, which ends June 30, 2013, we’ve reached the $1 billion milestone. Together, let’s see how far we can go from here.

On behalf of the university, I express my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign in many ways and to all of you who have worked tirelessly to make the investment in Carnegie Mellon a smart one.

As Campaign Chair Ed Frank (S’85), an alumnus, life trustee and parent of a 2006 graduate, said, this is a great day for the Carnegie Mellon community. And it is especially gratifying to see so many people contribute to our success. But, he reminds us that there’s still more work to be done as we look to expand support for our students and faculty, and attract the best minds to our university through ongoing philanthropy and working hard to contain costs.

Reaching this milestone early is impressive, especially when you consider that the public launch of the campaign in October 2008 coincided with the beginning of one of the worst global economic recessions in history. Our accomplishment is a testament to the university’s rising reputation, increasing global visibility and the loyalty of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, friends, corporations and foundations that have given Carnegie Mellon their support. They find our vision and objectives compelling. They believe in us, our university, and know they are investing in a place that impacts the world.

Already, we’ve seen impact from the campaign. Two donors have stepped forward to provide naming gifts to two of our seven schools — the David A. Tepper School of Business and the Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences — and a third donor supported the transformation of the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management to the H. John Heinz III College. Twenty-four endowed professorships, 73 endowed graduate student fellowships and 190 endowed undergraduate scholarships have been created thus far.

We’ve raised support for strategic academic areas as diverse as energy and the environment to cosmology to urban design to brain science. The campaign also has helped to change our landscape. Capital funds were raised for facilities, such as the Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies, the Kraus Campo, renovations to laboratories in Doherty Hall and other improvements in various buildings.

The Gates and Hillman centers, which were recently honored for their excellence with a 2012 American Institute of Architects Honor Award, tie our Pittsburgh campus community together as never before. Increased engagement by alumni, parents and friends, as well as students, faculty and staff also has been a focus of the campaign. We’ve seen alumni embrace the concept of alma mater through their active participation in events and activities.

The number of our alumni chapters has grown to 73, including 23 international chapters. But while the campaign has transformed the university and is helping us meet our mission and vision, we still have more work to do to remain competitive among the world’s best universities, which is why we must make these remaining 16 months count.

As is the case each February, our Board of Trustees set tuition for the coming academic year. The board voted today to approve a tuition increase for 2012-2013 of 4 percent for incoming students and 3 percent for current undergraduate students on our Pittsburgh campus, one of our smallest increases in 37 years. While raising $1 billion has taken us much closer to meeting our long-term campaign goals, it does not protect us entirely from the operating costs of successfully preparing our students for the global workplace.

To offset the rising tuition costs that are being seen across the country, we look to the campaign to grow our financial aid resources so that we can continue to attract and retain the best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students. This year our financial aid budget is approximately $76 million, yet only $7 million comes from dedicated endowment gifts for financial aid.

One day we want to be in the position to have more funding for student need through dedicated endowment, and our campaign is an important step toward that goal.

In addition to supporting our students, resources are still greatly needed to keep Carnegie Mellon competitive by recruiting and retaining award-winning faculty, supporting emerging research opportunities and building new facilities, in which our research and technology can continue to impact the world.

In our master plan for the Pittsburgh campus, we identified specific building projects that still need to be addressed, including a new home for the Tepper School, athletic facilities in the University Center and the renovation of Skibo Gym, and a facility to house our nanotechnology research, Biomedical Engineering Department, and the Energy Futures Institute.

Clearly, your support of the campaign has allowed Carnegie Mellon to accomplish great things. But we can’t rest now. Please join my commitment to push forward as we drive to the finish line to help make Carnegie Mellon the very best university it can be. Thank you. 


Jared Cohon
Jared L. Cohon
President, Carnegie Mellon University