Carnegie Mellon University

Dear CMU Ambassadors,

As fall semester draws to a close, I wanted to take one final opportunity this year to thank you for your support and advocacy for the students, faculty and staff of Carnegie Mellon.

This has certainly been a most unusual year for the university. There have been extraordinary challenges to delivering the high standard of education our students expect and deserve, and in advancing our research enterprise that is so critical to society. Despite the hurdles we faced, I am so pleased to report that our fall semester went exceptionally well, with a hybrid model that served both in-person as well as remote students and accelerated momentum in our creativity and research. Thanks to a robust COVID-19 risk mitigation strategy, including comprehensive testing and contact tracing protocols, we are concluding the semester with no significant outbreaks. We have also gone beyond merely adapting to the pandemic; rather, the lessons learned and innovations pursued will guide the university’s path for years after COVID-19 has receded. I am so proud of all we are achieving.

As CMU Ambassadors, you play an essential role in this success. Thank you for standing with us during this time. I appreciate hearing your kind words in response to our mailings, and am grateful for every time you share our good news with colleagues, friends and family. And I am especially humbled by the support you show for our students. Just two weeks ago, you helped us set a new benchmark for Giving CMU Day, with nearly 5,700 donors contributing more than $1.5 million to scholarships, student emergency funds, priorities in the colleges and more. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to share with you a few stories about our Tartan community’s contributions to our region and to society:

  • For its 27th year, our Pittsburgh campus has broken records to support neighbors in need with our annual food drive, donating more than $84,000 in cash and food contributions, which will provide 407,181 meals. We almost tripled the amount raised last year!
  • In addition, researchers in our Robotics Institute and Metro21: Smart Cities Institute are using machine learning to create optimal delivery routes for local nonprofits, so they can most efficiently make free meal deliveries to senior citizens as well as K-12 students and their families who rely on them.
  • A collaborative team of undergraduate and graduate students studying statistics, design, math and computer science have transformed a class project into The College Community, an app that is helping Tartans find connections while studying remotely. It’s an entrepreneurial effort built on kindness and a recognition that support for mental health is especially critical during this time of isolation.

We are also making progress in our commitments to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the university and develop positive social innovations that expand access, opportunity and economic empowerment in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Since we first launched our expansive action plan on DEI in July, I have heard consistently from the community that transparency and accountability for these efforts is paramount. With that in mind, we recently launched a new microsite containing detailed status updates across all the various actions of our plan, and I invite you to explore our ongoing progress.

Lastly, please join me in honoring this year’s class of CMU Alumni Awards honorees, which includes public servants, educators, artists and visionaries who are advancing their fields, giving back to help CMU students, and contributing to making our world a better place for all. We hope you can join us for the virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday, December 16.

Once again, thank you for all you do for Carnegie Mellon. I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

With warm regards,

Farnam Jahanian
President and Henry L. Hillman President's Chair