A Legacy of Leadership
President Jared L. Cohon
1997 – 2013: Sixteen years of progress, achievement and evolution at Carnegie Mellon University. It's the legacy of President Jared L. Cohon's remarkable leadership.
When Dr. Cohon took the helm, the Board of Trustees identified several specific priorities. Looking back, the impact of his work — accomplished with Provost Mark Kamlet beside him — is, indeed, remarkable.
Speaking for so many, the following academic and community leaders shared their personal, heartfelt recollections of the impact Dr. Cohon has had on CMU.
"This was the best education for leadership any of us could have had." Indira Nair, Vice Provost for Education, Emeritus
"President Cohon made it a point to communicate and listen to everyone with care and empathy," explained Nair. "We faculty, students, staff, and alumni witnessed his honorable approach, we followed, and we learned to lead in our own ways."
An acclaimed university administrator, civil engineer, professor and government adviser, Dr. Cohon personified the best in leadership. By example, he developed leaders throughout the CMU community.
"Carnegie Mellon has grown into an institution that is financially strong and academically rich." James Rohr (life trustee), chairman and CEO, PNC Financial Services Group
Jared Cohon led the university to growth through a time of extraordinary financial pressure. He successfully navigated through this challenging period, effectively balancing organizational goals with economic reality.
"President Cohon always made the priorities for us clear: students, faculty, and core academic mission must come first," stated Ed Grefenstette (TPR'98), president and Chief Investment Officer of the Dietrich Foundation. "As a result, CMU has preserved the financial standing necessary to remain a strong, special place for generations to come."
"He favored a uniquely CMU approach — innovative, nimble, and leveraging quantitative and interdisciplinary approaches." Nathan Urban, the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences
Under Jared Cohon, CMU pushed forward on research fronts across the campus and the globe. Cross-disciplinary collaborations blossomed as the school's international reputation rose. The creation of new facilities helped to advance this vision.
"Jerry Cohon understood Carnegie Mellon's unique comparative advantage: the ability to adopt a systems approach to address important problems that lie at the boundary between multiple disciplines," noted Granger Morgan, Lord Chair Professor and engineering and public policy department head, and director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. "We are the only leading research university that actually does this day in, day out across a range of topics."
"No one has understood the importance of diversity like Dr. Cohon." Everett Tademy, AVP for Diversity and Equal Opportunity Services
Dr. Cohon made diversity a pillar in the CMU strategic plan. The Diversity Advisory Council was formed, allowing the university to grow more diverse in numerous ways.
"A diverse campus community enriches intellectual exchanges and enhances cultural understanding, and no one values that like Dr. Cohon," stressed Tademy.
"Pittsburgh wouldn't be the transformed region it is today without the leadership and vision of Jerry Cohon." Dennis Yablonsky, CEO, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Dr. Cohon co-chaired two regional incubators and demonstrated (and is perhaps best known in the region for) his visionary leadership in technology transfer for commercializing intellectual property.
"He saw that a well-defined framework for technology transfer benefits faculty members, the university, and, ultimately, our larger community because innovation is brought to market quickly," said Yablonsky.
"Under his insightful leadership, Carnegie Mellon has flourished and expanded throughout the world." Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Qatar
Thanks to Jared Cohon, CMU has expanded its reach across the globe, from Qatar to Australia to Portugal and Rwanda, educating students, advancing research and forging alliances.
"Travel anywhere in the world — CMU is known and admired," observed E. Kears Pollock (E'62, '64, life trustee), retired EVP, PPG Industries. "Jerry Cohon and Mark Kamlet have led the advance of CMU's entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary spirit into partnerships in countries in almost every time zone."
"We have embraced a vision to make a difference in the world that pervades our thinking, decision-making and actions." Michael Murphy (HNZ'86), VP for Campus Affairs
The Cohon years have seen increasingly accomplished students who increasingly display leadership and value engagement — a university community that combines hard-charging focus with a true sense of caring.
"Dr. Cohon has left an indelible mark on CMU," added Murphy. "There is no mistaking his impact in orchestrating such a unique sense of community. Dr. Cohon has given all of us a noble and expansive sense of what it means to belong to the Carnegie Mellon family. That is an extraordinary legacy."
Please share any personal recollections you have by submitting them to our Interactive Timeline.