The Future of Science at CMU is Now
The Glen de Vries Dean’s Chair positions Carnegie Mellon at the vanguard of innovative science education and research
In the Mellon Institute, where generations of scientists have climbed the iconic stone steps, Rebecca Doerge was installed on April 24 as the inaugural Glen de Vries Dean’s Chair of the Mellon College of Science, an event that moved the future of science at Carnegie Mellon University one giant step forward.
Members of the CMU community, including deans, faculty, students and special guests, gathered to celebrate de Vries’ generosity, as well as Doerge as a scholar and leader. The dean’s chair endowment will create opportunities for investments in fundamental science, interdisciplinary initiatives, and faculty and students for years to come.
Alumnus Glen de Vries, the president and co-founder of Medidata Solutions, the leading global provider of cloud-based technology for clinical research, donated $10 million to endow the chair of the dean at Mellon College of Science in December 2017. Previously, the scientist and entrepreneur endowed a Presidential Fellowship in the biological sciences at CMU.
Speaking at the installation, CMU President Farnam Jahanian expressed how the de Vries’ gift will allow the Mellon College of Science to continue to push the boundaries at the forefront of innovation in science by building on CMU’s strengths in interdisciplinary education and research and data/computation.
“The long-term success of science at CMU requires sustained resources. This generous gift comes at an important moment for science at CMU and it is a strong endorsement of where we are headed as a university,” Jahanian said.
De Vries, who received his undergraduate degree in molecular biology and genetics from Carnegie Mellon in 1994, spoke with deep affection about his time at CMU as a student and its influence on his career path, as well as his close relationship with Doerge.
“Carnegie Mellon made me … me. The work here has an incredibly outsized effect on the world,” de Vries said during the event. “I am really excited about what we can do around science at CMU.”
Doerge, an interdisciplinary researcher whose research spans biological sciences, statistics and data science, was named MCS dean in 2016. The endowment provided by de Vries’ contribution gives her and her successors the flexibility to pursue high risk/high payoff research that is often the most difficult for which to find funding.
“This gift means that we have young alumni like Glen who recognize and appreciate the value of their education here, and are willing to invest in MCS’s future,” Doerge said. “This gift is about giving Mellon College of Science the freedom to be visionary. We will build on all of our collective strengths to elevate science at this university. We will do this by doing foundational research and developing technologies that will lead to tomorrow’s greatest discoveries. We will train leaders who look outside their disciplines to solve problems, and we will prepare those leaders to make a great impact, just like Glen continues to do.”
The installation was followed by the annual Mellon College of Science Buhl Lecture, this year given by astronomer Robert Kirshner.