Carnegie Mellon University

Jay Devine

2018 Alumni Award Spotlight: Jay Devine

Alumnus Jay Devine is a dedicated advocate for generations of CMU students and alumni

Joseph “Jay” Devine (DC 1984) never intended to become a college administrator, and he certainly never meant to stay at Carnegie Mellon for more than 40 years. But fortunately for generations of CMU students, he did both.

“I can’t say that I intended to pursue this path. I kind of fell into it and came to love it,” Devine says. “I really enjoy being around students of this age every day. It keeps me young!”

Devine is a familiar face to many CMU students and alumni because of his numerous university and college roles. As the associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences he oversees academic policies and issues in conjunction with his colleagues. He also serves as the director of Dietrich’s senior honors and student-defined major programs.

He has served as the chapter secretary for CMU’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter since its founding in 1995, overseeing the election and initiation of more than 1,500 CMU undergraduates, as well as several alumni and other distinguished honorees. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of History, head of CMU’s pre-law advising and leads a seminar for the university’s Washington Semester. As part of the Washington Semester, Devine has enlisted a group of more than 50 D.C. area alumni to engage with and mentor the program’s students.

“Jay enriches the lives of both the students in the Washington Semester Program and the local alumni,” wrote Sach Takayasu (DC 1985), president and CEO of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship and a 2017 Alumni Achievement Award recipient, in her nomination letter for Devine. “The way Jay has brought the students and alumni together has helped forge an intellectual and emotional connection.”

Many think of Devine as the go-to person for Dietrich alumni. His long tenure and “excellent memory” led him naturally into that role.

“When I hear from alumni years later and they remember an experience with me that really mattered to their lives, that really makes my day,” he says. “Receiving this award from such a cross section of alumni is especially meaningful — for me, it means it’s been a journey with impact.”

Devine understands personally how even a casual conversation can affect a life. It was an offhand remark of an English professor that brought Devine to CMU in 1977 in pursuit of a doctorate in history.

“What a difference that made in my life!” he laughs.

While a grad student, he worked with the CMU admission team to reach out to students who expressed interest in CMU but hadn’t yet accepted admission. His success there led to an offer for an academic advising position in the Dietrich College.

“I get satisfaction when I meet with students no matter the issue. If they leave my office feeling better than when they came in…I love that,” says Devine. “If that happens even once a day, that’s a great day.”

Jay Devine will receive a 2018 Faculty & Staff Impact Award for consistently going above and beyond in service to CMU’s students and alumni on May 18 during Commencement Weekend. Read more about CMU’s 2018 Alumni Awards and honorees.