Carnegie Mellon University

Fall 2009


Tuition Tax Will Not Be Pursued

The following is a message from President Jared L. Cohon that was sent to the university community this afternoon regarding the city's decision to no longer pursue the proposed tuition tax.

I am pleased to inform you that the proposed tuition tax will no longer be pursued by the City of Pittsburgh. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced this at a press conference this morning, which I attended along with Chancellor Mark Nordenberg of the University of Pittsburgh and Mary Hines, president of Carlow University and chair of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE). For your information the press release issued by PCHE is below.

Carnegie Mellon was an original member of the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund and now, as part of a new broad coalition, the university has pledged increased financial support to Pittsburgh and a willingness to assist the city in seeking help from other organizations. While times are difficult financially here and elsewhere, we are doing this because of the city's great need and our belief that city's progress over the past 25 years has been built on partnership.

Many people had a hand in this outcome, especially Chancellor Nordenberg and President Hines, but I want to emphasize the role played by our students. They turned out in large numbers to let their opposition be known, which had a significant effect on the city's leaders. Rotimi Abimbola, our undergraduate Student Body President, provided excellent leadership, and all of our students conducted themselves in a manner of which we can be proud.

With this bad tax idea behind us, we look forward to working with the city to address its fiscal problems and to restore Pittsburgh's forward momentum.

Jared L. Cohon

Press Release from PCHE:

The Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) welcomes today's announcement by Mayor Ravenstahl that a tuition tax on students will no longer be pursued by the city as a revenue solution for the legacy challenges presented by its historically underfunded pension plans. PCHE has long acknowledged the seriousness of those challenges for the city and for city taxpayers, including many of our own students and employees. PCHE has recommended a broad-based coalition that will secure a long-term structural solution to these challenges. Based on today's announcement, PCHE welcomes the opportunity to partner with the city and others in such a collaborative endeavor.

However, PCHE rejected the proposed tuition tax as bad public policy and as a measure that did not serve the best interests either of the city or of the students who choose to study here. Should such a proposal re-surface at any point in the future, we would again vigorously oppose it from that same principled position.

The colleges and universities will continue to be part of the solution, as the non-profit community and others step up once again to assist the city. However, this time the efforts will not be to plug a hole in the budget, but to work together to find permanent funding streams to resolve the pension problem. In agreeing to partner with the city, other non-profit organizations and the business community to creatively identify funding strategies, PCHE believes a broad-based Pittsburgh collaborative deliberatively working on multiple solutions will provide a model for other municipalities, which face similar financial problems.

We Presidents have been proud of the involvement of our students, who chose to step forward by the thousands to have their voices heard by government and the public. They affirmed that they like being in Pittsburgh and that many will remain after graduation as employees and residents. They demonstrated that they are already significantly engaged in Pittsburgh, where they live, work, study, pay taxes, and volunteer hundreds of thousands of service hours to communities and businesses. It is our hope that the outcome of their recent political efforts will be their further engagement in the political, cultural, social, financial and service sectors of our city. Our students want to experience the best of what Pittsburgh has to offer, and will continue contributing their best to Pittsburgh.

Finally but very importantly, PCHE thanks those who played key roles in getting us to this point. We always will be grateful to members of City Council who stood with us from the beginning, to the members of the Legislature who stepped forward to offer their support, to the City Controller and the members of the ICA who expressed professional reservations about the legality of the tax proposal, and to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development for expressing its opposition to the proposal as a matter of public policy. We are also grateful to the members of City Council who fostered meaningful dialogue to advance the long-term interests of the city at large, and to the Mayor for re-considering his position.

The members of PCHE have long been important contributors to the strength and vitality of the City of Pittsburgh. We are also firm believers in approaches that are unifying and not divisive within our own community.  As has been noted, then, we look forward to participating actively in the coalition that is being forged by the Mayor to find solutions to the city's fiscal problems and to build an even better Pittsburgh.

Internal Communications


Success for Google, Carnegie Mellon & Pittsburgh

Dear Members of the University Community:

I’m writing to let you know that after four years of growth in Carnegie Mellon’s Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC), Google has announced it is moving its successful Pittsburgh engineering center to Bakery Square in East Liberty.

This is a wonderful success story — for Google, for Carnegie Mellon, and for Pittsburgh.  

Google’s growth here has been phenomenal. In the four years, almost to the day (December 15, 2005), since Google announced the opening of a Pittsburgh office, the staff has grown rapidly, and numerous creative contributions to the company’s growth have emanated from Pittsburgh. Google’s move to nearby East Liberty will accommodate a continued rapid pace of growth.
This success is in part due to the extraordinary leadership and example of Google Pittsburgh’s director, Andrew Moore, whose groundbreaking work in machine learning while he was a Carnegie Mellon computer science faculty member first attracted Google’s attention.

This is a success story for Carnegie Mellon, too.  Our vision for the CIC was to create a space for innovation-intensive companies to locate on our campus to build new connections between faculty, students, and company staff. Google, Intel and Apple all endorsed this vision, and Carnegie Mellon has been very gratified to play a part in the success of these three partners in the CIC’s first years. This is a new model for corporate-university collaboration, and we could not be more pleased with its success and impact.

Pittsburgh has benefited from the CIC, which has brought dozens of new IT jobs to the city, and raised the region’s worldwide reputation as a center for innovation in IT and computing.  Google’s decision to locate in East Liberty, a neighborhood now undergoing an exciting transition, is itself a great vote of confidence in the city’s future.

While Google has outgrown the space at CIC, the company’s relationship with Carnegie Mellon continues to deepen. The company continues to support a wide array of research projects here, and it remains a leading employer of our graduates. This year, Google acquired Computer Science Professor Luis von Ahn’s spin-off company ReCAPTCHA, Inc., and it continues to look to Carnegie Mellon as one of the most important of its university partners.

Please join me in congratulating Andrew Moore and all our colleagues at Google, and wishing them the best of luck in East Liberty. They are not going far. I know our great work with Google will continue to be a mutually beneficial one for our university, the company, Pittsburgh and the world.
Jared L. Cohon

Internal Communications


Groundbreaking Center

GroundbreakingMarcel Just, the D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging; John Lehoczky, dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS); Michael Tarr, professor and co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition; Tim Keller, scientist; Marlene Behrmann, professor; and Walt Schneider of the University of Pittsburgh, celebrated the groundbreaking for a new Carnegie Mellon imaging center, which will be located in Wean Hall 3604. In order to move a new Siemens Verio 3T Scanner, which was paid for by a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, into Wean Hall, an access point is being created into the lower level of the south side of the building. The facility, which is expected to be completed in early 2010, will be used by HSS and School of Computer Science faculty, as well as several Pitt departments. Watch Just talk about the project. [0:49 .mov]

Shilo Raube


Carnegie Mellon Designs Available on Flip Cameras

flipkiltYou can support Carnegie Mellon student initiatives by purchasing a Flip camcorder adorned with special Tartan designs. Developed by alumnus Jonathan Kaplan and distributed by Cisco, the Flip camcorder is an easy-to-use, highly portable video camera.

Through the Flip For Good program, a $10 donation for every Flip purchased will go to support student initiatives.

The cameras are available for purchase at

Abby Ross