Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition: September 27, 2001
Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition
In This Issue
University Rallies to Mourn National Tragedy

Carnegie Mellon Rated "Most Wired," Again

"National Treasure" Robert Page Receives Paul Mellon Professorship of Music

University 23rd in U.S. News' Rating

40-Year-Old Sets Hectic Pace as Freshman and CFA Staff Member

Ferguson Leads Effort to Trap, Neuter and Release Feral Cats

Autonomous Helicopter Called to Assist FBI in Somerset County

Summer Appointments and Accolades

Paul Christiano Remembered

Women's Association Tours PNC Park

Satyanarayanan Heads New Intel Lab

Football Team Collects More than $5,500 for Relief Effort

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cut University Rallies to Mourn National Tragedy
"I'm Amazed At How We Did Respond," says Student Body President Adam Harber

Shortly after hearing about the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Carnegie Mellon officials rallied together in a makeshift command center in the University Center's President's Dining Room to map out plans for an appropriate response.

While students filled the University Center's Kirr Commons to watch details of the worst tragedy in U.S. history unfold on television, President Jared L. Cohon and Provost Mark Kamlet deliberated by telephone about a proper course of action. Cohon, away on business travel, and Kamlet decided to cancel classes for the day and allow employees to go home to their family and friends.

Their message was quickly posted on university doorways and electronic postings ran on the Carnegie Mellon Web site and on the official.cmu-news and cmu.misc-news bulletin boards. Voice mail messages were distributed by Telecommunications.

tears Dean of Student Affairs Michael Murphy activated the Counseling Center and counselors were available throughout the day to help members of the university cope with the day's tragic events. National television news broadcasts continued to be shown in Kirr Commons and McConomy Auditorium.

Coincidentally, the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh was conducting a blood drive in the Connan Room that day. Its appeal for additional blood donors in response to the day's events attracted more than it could handle. The donation center stayed open for an additional four hours to accommodate as many donors as possible. A two-hour wait existed by the end of the day and several donors were turned away.

"From my contact with members of the administration throughout the day, I have learned of the thoughtfulness and caring with which each of you has responded in our hour of need," said President Cohon in an email message to the university community late Tuesday.

"On a day of such tragedy, we donated 251 pints of blood in the Connan Room and had to turn people away at the door. On a day when you could have so easily focused on yourselves, you reached out to others whose family and friends were most deeply impacted.

"My heart aches for the pain and the loss of life today, but I find solace and hope that you, members of one of the great universities of the world, have demonstrated what it means to be a community," Cohon said.

"I'm proud of the way Carnegie Mellon responded," Kamlet said.

Student Body President Adam Harber and Vice President Brian Namy organized a candlelight vigil later that evening. Several hundred members of the university community attended.

"It was a moving and beautiful candlelight vigil," Murphy said. "It was something I've never seen here before."

"It was an amazing event in which students expressed their thoughts," Harber said. "It shows me we are a caring community and that means much more than any U.S. News (and World Report magazine) ranking. We are a campus that cares about each other, our campus and the world."

Vice Provost for Education Indira Nair said she was proud to hear what was said at the vigil.

music "You heard a lot about love, healing and caring," she said. "I wished our students had been the senators."

The following day, Wednesday, Sept. 12, a gathering of about 100 met in Rangos Ballroom in an open forum session, in which students, faculty and staff shared their feelings and opinions about the tragedy and Carnegie Mellon's response.

Student Michelle Ng tearfully talked about growing up in New York City and going to high school about four blocks from the World Trade Center.

"My point of focus, my point of direction, was always the World Trade Center," she said. "Everytime I visit New York City, by plane, car or bus, I would always say Œhome sweet home' as soon as I saw the twin towers. That symbol of home is now not there for me."

"I feel like we've had a death in the family," said Maury Burgwin, a staff member in the Computer Science Department. He said he'd like to see a university panel created "of the brightest and best minds" to work together to create ideas that would prevent "this situation from existing" again. "Let's make a positive out of a negative," he said.

Dewitt Latimer, a member of the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, said future A Phi O events will be used as a venue to collect donations for the Red Cross in New York City. "If you do feel helpless, the best you can do is to give blood and give to the Red Cross," he said.

Student leaders Harber and Namy expressed their pleasure with how the university responded.

"As a community I'm amazed at how we did respond," Harber said. "The blood drive line was all through the University Center."

"It's remarkable to see the manifestations (of support) on this campus," Namy said. "We didn't rush out to join the Army, but we did rush to donate blood.

"Let us show our love as we have done so in the past day and a half. Let us show that love, and share that love, and together we'll cope with this terrible disaster," he said.

Other students spoke of Carnegie Mellon as a "special, kind and caring" community, as "their home" and as their "family."

On Thursday, Sept. 13, the School of Music presented an impromptu noontime concert of patriotic music on the steps of the College of Fine Arts.

Later that day, President Cohon distributed an email message across the university asking all members of the Carnegie Mellon community to be "understanding of the special burden" the tragedy "carries for our students from throughout the world, and especially for our Muslim students from here and abroad."

"As the focus of attention now turns toward identifying those responsible for these acts of terrorism, some have seized this opportunity to lash out, causing further harm to innocent people simply because they are, or are presumed to be, Muslim or from the Middle East.

talk "Moreover, we need to understand that this presumption of ethnicity or belief may have little or no foundation, so many of us may face this potential risk."

President Cohon urged the university community to "act prudently," to "exercise common standards of personal safety," and to care for others "as you have so actively demonstrated over the past few days."

"Make every effort not to walk alone at night, avail yourself of the University Escort Service, avoid being alone in unfamiliar areas off campus, and contact the Campus Police or Dean (Michael) Murphy if you have any concerns whatsoever," Cohon said.

Campus Police hosted special "Personal Safety" forums Sept. 13 and 14 in Schatz Dining Room.

In recognition of U.S. President George W. Bush's National Day of Prayer declaration (Sept. 14), two informal prayer and remembrance gatherings were held on the Cut. In addition, the School of Drama sponsored poetry readings on the Cut, where several drama students also performed.

Several faculty members hosted an informative meeting with students on the Cut on Monday, Sept. 17, to discuss the crisis. Faculty members talked about their research expertise in regard to various aspects associated with the attack on America. Participating were President Cohon and professors Laurie Eisenberg, Baruch Fischhoff, Benoit Morel, Robert Cavalier, Robyn Dawes, Brian Johnston and Victor Weedn.

"It was about education," said History Professor Scott Sandage, one of the organizers of the event. "It wasn't a political rally."

Those members of the university community with questions or the need for personal assistance should call the Office of Student Affairs at 412-268-2075.

Note: Announcements about campus events in response to the national tragedy, President Cohon's message to the university community, a City of Pittsburgh resolution, and crisis management information from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education are available at

Bruce Gerson
(09/27/01) crowd

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