Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon to Honor 11 with Alumni Awards for Achievement, Service to University

The 2019 Carnegie Mellon Alumni Award honorees can be found in boardrooms, greenrooms and clean rooms around the world, making their mark in fields as wide ranging as quantum physics, logistics, philanthropy and theater.

CMU will celebrate the professional achievements and generous service to the university of this group of 11 scientists, artists, business innovators, nonprofit leaders, technologists and visionaries on May 17 during Commencement Weekend.

“Our alumni are leaders in their fields, the greatest minds in the world and dedicated volunteers, and these awards celebrate these individuals and their commitment to Carnegie Mellon,” said Alex DiClaudio (DC 2009, HNZ 2011), CMU Alumni Association Board president. “They are role models for what CMU alumni can accomplish.”

2019 Founders Medal

Carnegie Mellon will award the Founders Medal for the second year to a distinguished alumnus who has displayed outstanding dedication and service to the university and extraordinary achievement in his career. 

Tod Johnson (TPR 1966, 1967), executive chairman of The NPD Group, is the 2019 Founders Medal recipient.

“A true visionary and trendsetter, Tod hasn’t just led his company to success, he’s set a high bar for others in his industry to follow,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “His business acumen is only surpassed by his generous spirit, including the recent commitment made by him and his wife Cindy to support student access and success. His longstanding service to CMU has quietly and surely helped to shape this university into the global force for transformative education and innovation that it is today.”

For four decades, Johnson has been a leader in his industry, growing NPD Group from a small U.S. market research provider to a global leader in marketing information and advisory services, serving more than 20 industries. By applying innovative thinking and leadership, he and NPD have been at the forefront of emerging trends, new technologies and the power of big data long before others saw the opportunity.

Along with serving as chairman, vice chairman, secretary and director of the Advertising Research Foundation, Johnson was a founding chairman and director of the Council for Marketing and Opinion Research. He was elected to the Market Research Council Hall of Fame in 2011. He received the Tepper School Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 and the CMU Alumni Service Award in 1990.

Johnson is the longest serving voting member of the CMU Board of Trustees, where he has held many leadership roles, including vice chair of the board and chair of the Centennial Campaign. In addition, he has served on advisory boards at the college and department level, headed the recent presidential search committee, volunteered for his reunion committee and served on the Andrew Carnegie Society board, to just name a few. Last year, Johnson and his wife, Cindy, made the largest philanthropic commitment to scholarships in CMU’s history, a transformative gift that will dramatically increase the accessibility of a life-changing education for talented students.

He also serves as managing director of the Metropolitan Opera, business advisor of CivicScience, a NPD-backed survey technology startup, and director of Catalina Marketing, a Berkshire Partners-led LBO.

2019 Alumni Award Honorees

In addition to Johnson, 10 others will be honored at the 69th annual Alumni Awards Ceremony.

“’My heart is in the work’ is the standard by which this group of Alumni Award recipients has conducted their professional and personal lives,” said Nancy Merritt, assistant vice president for alumni relations. “Their passion and commitment have resulted in achievements and contributions that have improved their industries, their communities and the world.”

Presented to alumni for exceptional accomplishment and leadership in their fields or vocations, the 2019 Alumni Achievement Award honorees are:

  • Eric L. Butler (E 1981, TPR 1986), founder and CEO of Aswani-Butler Investment Associates LLC and former executive vice president at Union Pacific Railroad, where he led a number of areas during his 30-year career, including marketing, purchasing and strategic planning;
  • Sheldon Epps (A 1973), former artistic director and artistic director emeritus for the Pasadena Playhouse, which he turned from a troubled theater into a powerhouse of artistic vision and fiscal responsibility over 20 years;
  • Eileen R. Heisman (DC 1976), an internationally known expert in charitable and planned giving who is president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, which she has grown into the nation’s largest independent provider of donor-advised funds; and
  • Patricia McBride (S 1977), distinguished scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Department of Energy’s premier particle physics laboratory, and deputy spokesperson for the CMS collaboration at CERN in Switzerland.

The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award is given for exemplary professional or vocational success and/or service to the university in the first decade as an alumnus, and the 2019 honoree is:

CMU will honor four dedicated alumni with Alumni Service Awards, recognizing Tartans for their dedicated and impactful service to the university and its alumni. The 2019 honorees are:

  • Bill L. James, Jr. (TPR 1978), senior vice president at Loop Capital Markets in Chicago, and the driving force behind the CMU Black Alumni Association and champion of inclusion and diversity efforts across campus;
  • Rana Sen (A 1999), managing director at Deloitte Consulting and a dedicated volunteer for CMU and the Heinz College, where he works with faculty and students on projects and spearheads recruiting efforts of students and alumni for Deloitte;
  • Roseanne K. Silva (E 1991), senior vice president and business chief technology officer at PNC Financial Services Group, and an advocate, supporter, mentor and volunteer for students in the Information Networking Institute; and
  • Paul L. Wellener IV (TPR 1986), vice chair for the U.S. industrial products sector for Deloitte, LLP, and a lifelong supporter of Carnegie Mellon who connects with students and alumni as a recruiter and Alumni Board member at the Tepper School of Business.

The Faculty & Staff Impact Award, which is bestowed on CMU community members who have consistently gone above and beyond their roles as administrators and educators to show extraordinary dedication and service to CMU alumni and students, is awarded to:  

First presented in 1950, the Alumni Awards pay tribute to individuals distinguished by their service to the university and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and business. To date, nearly 900 alumni, faculty and students have been honored with these awards.

The CMU Alumni Awards ceremony takes place on Friday, May 17. Registration will open in mid-March. More information can be found at