Carnegie Mellon University

October 2018 Edition

October 8, 2018

There is no more exciting time to be on a university campus than the start of fall semester. New students and faculty are finding their place in the rich Carnegie Mellon culture, as they add their fresh viewpoints to energize our classrooms, labs and studios. And returning community members bring renewed focus following summer research activities, trips abroad to meet with collaborators and special projects that help them articulate new lines of inquiry to advance their fields. It’s a time when the promise of what we are achieving together inspires us to work harder and dream bigger.

This fall certainly feels like the beginning of a new era at CMU. Just last month we celebrated the grand opening of the spectacular David A. Tepper Quadrangle, or Tepper Quad, as it’s commonly known. The first building to be completed on this expansion of our Pittsburgh campus is the largest construction project in our history. But its size is eclipsed by the flurry of activities within its walls, which, by the way, are easily reconfigurable for maximum adaptability in the years to come. Here, multiple disciplines converge under one roof and the finest student experience is integrated in every element. The Tepper Quad is poised to spark research endeavors, forge business ventures, and even create new fields at the edges and intersections of traditional boundaries. I am grateful to David Tepper for his generosity, as well as for the commitment of 1,249 donors who supported this historic project, which will catalyze connection, collaboration and entrepreneurship at CMU.

The Tepper Quad is a strong representation of CMU’s vision for the future of higher education, and also reflects several themes that will drive our mission in the coming years. It is becoming clear that the story of this century will depend on how well our global society navigates the increasingly complex intersection of technology and humanity — and this is a story that Carnegie Mellon is singularly positioned to write. Our experts have spawned and advanced the very fields transforming our world, but what makes us truly unique is the way our scholars — from scientists to humanists to artists and everyone in between — are passionately working to ensure technological progress benefits humankind. 

I want to share a few of the many recent examples that illustrate our 21st century leadership. As the university that created the field of artificial intelligence, we are greatly concerned about the implications of this technology, from ethics to economics. Forbes recently spoke to Professor Elizabeth Holm of the College of Engineering and Professor Reid Simmons of the School of Computer Science about how we are addressing the societal shifts that result from automation. The founding director of our Institute for Politics and Strategy, Professor Kiron Skinner, whose expertise in international relations and security is bolstered by her work in cybersecurity, has been named a senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And we have just relaunched the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery as the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art with a mission to harness the power of art as a vehicle to create social change. 

We are at an important moment for CMU. Our entire world is adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as the unprecedented, rapid pace of technological advances today is disrupting many industries, including higher education. I was thrilled to welcome the Class of 2022 to campus earlier this semester, a class that once again is extraordinarily qualified, and brings diversity of backgrounds and voices to our community. But according to a recent study, about two-thirds of our current students will ultimately be employed in jobs that do not yet exist. As a university, we are prioritizing what it means to prepare students for a future that is not yet defined. 

Society continues to experience CMU’s extraordinary research in measurable real-world impact. This is the core of Carnegie Mellon’s DNA since our founding — people driven to make a difference through the impact of their discoveries. I’m pleased to share three instances of tremendously promising research that has the potential to enhance the human condition and improve lives. The first is University Professor Marlene Behrmann’s work examining the way a child’s brain reorganizes following major surgery to remove a tumor. The second is research out of the College of Engineering into the development of self-repairing materials that could be used in robotic applications. And the third is from the Mellon College of Science where scientists have, for the first time, successfully cured a genetic condition in utero using a gene-editing technique

And great work continues right here on campus to invest in the CMU experience and ensure every member of our community has the resources and support to be fully connected to their work. We are in the middle of a multiyear $20 million project to renovate and sustain classroom and learning spaces across the Pittsburgh campus. The College of Engineering’s ANSYS Building is going up next to Hamerschlag Hall, and when complete next summer, will greatly expand hands-on learning opportunities for students in CMU’s growing Maker Ecosystem. 

Construction is also underway at the busy Morewood intersection at the north end of the Cut to create a long-anticipated entrance to campus. And we are partnering on a state project that is overhauling Forbes Avenue with pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, smart traffic signals and landscaping that will make the busy thoroughfare both safer and more inviting. It is not hyperbole to say that by next summer, these projects will dramatically change the experience for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.

These examples merely skim the surface of why I am confident this coming century will truly be defined by Carnegie Mellon. It is a tremendous time to be affiliated with this great institution, and I am grateful for your continued involvement as an advocate, volunteer and supporter.

As always, thank you for all you do as a CMU Ambassador. Tris and I hope to see you on campus during Inauguration Weekend and Homecoming, October 26-27, or at events across the United States and around the world during the upcoming year. 


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