March 3, 2018
Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community,
I am delighted to announce that the Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Farnam Jahanian as the 10th president of Carnegie Mellon University.
A rigorous, international search over the last eight months has made it clear that Dr. Jahanian possesses a rare set of qualities and experiences that make him exactly the right leader for this university at this extraordinary moment in its history. Dr. Jahanian is an accomplished computer scientist whose scholarship has advanced his field, and an entrepreneur who knows firsthand how to bring that knowledge to market. He served as a policymaker, working tirelessly to make sure technology enhances society, and championing the role of fundamental research in powering our future. He is a leader with extensive experience in higher education administration and a strong commitment to scholarship and learning. He is a CMU parent who cares deeply about empowering students and enhancing the student experience. In short, Dr. Jahanian embodies a bold, boundary-crossing, creative approach to the most important issues of our time — the very qualities that define and differentiate Carnegie Mellon, positioning this university to shape our world at the nexus of technology and human life.
Just as importantly, during his time as provost and interim president, Dr. Jahanian has led this institution with an irresistible urgency and a determination to seize the opportunities at hand. He has enabled the deans, senior administrators, faculty, staff, and students to pursue excellence at every level of their work. Through the power of his vision and his deft understanding of human nature, he has facilitated new levels of collaboration across the institution — an essential step in securing CMU’s place among the greatest universities in the world. He has earned the confidence and enthusiastic support of the trustees, CMU’s benefactors, and alumni around the world.
Dr. Jahanian grew to become a noted scholar and academic leader during his 21 years at the University of Michigan, where he held the Edward S. Davidson Collegiate Professorship in the College of Engineering. A nationally recognized computer scientist, he is a widely published expert in cybersecurity and computer networks. He served as Michigan’s chair for Computer Science and Engineering from 2007 to 2011. With former Michigan graduate students, he founded Arbor Networks, which commercialized network security technology now used widely by industry.
Dr. Jahanian has been an active advocate for basic research as the foundation of an innovation ecosystem that addresses societal priorities and drives global competitiveness. From 2011 to 2014, he led the National Science Foundation Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) in its mission to advance scientific discovery through its support of fundamental research. He oversaw presidential initiatives, such as the National Robotics Initiative and the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative, as well as the US Ignite and I-Corps public-private partnerships.
He joined Carnegie Mellon as vice president for research in 2014, and was chosen to become provost in 2015 following a national search. Dr. Jahanian was appointed interim president on July 1, 2017. At CMU, Dr. Jahanian guided the campus-wide dialogue that led to Strategic Plan 2025, and has led efforts to implement the plan. During his tenure as provost, the university developed interdisciplinary innovations that better meet the needs of CMU students in the new economy, including a first-of-its-kind behavioral economics programs and a new computational biology major. He has worked with the academic deans to launch major interdisciplinary research centers, including the recently announced Block Center for Technology and Society and CMU’s new neuroscience institute.
To support these new activities, he has overseen several critical investments in the university’s academic infrastructure. This fall, the university will open the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, including the transformational 300,000-square-foot building that will provide a new home for the Tepper School of Business as well as the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and the technology-enhanced learning laboratory. In July 2017, Dr. Jahanian announced a complementary initiative to renovate classroom and learning spaces, embracing the future of learning with inspiring, hands-on, collaborative and technology-driven environments.
During the 2016-17 academic year, Dr. Jahanian structured and chaired the campus-wide Task Force on the CMU Experience, which has focused on creating intentional structures for mentoring and nurturing; offering new spaces and opportunities for reflection, play and meaningful interaction; engaging in a more proactive approach to health and wellness; and addressing academic policies and practices to ensure they best serve student success.
As provost and as interim president, Dr. Jahanian also has put new focus on ensuring that CMU attracts an outstanding and diverse student body. This year, for the first time in the university’s history more than half of first-year undergraduates are women, a milestone fueled by record percentages of undergraduate women studying computer science and engineering. This winter, a historic number of prospective undergraduates applied to CMU, with dramatic increases across all colleges and schools.
At the same time, Dr. Jahanian has been a vocal proponent of Pittsburgh’s vital tech scene, and the role that academia, government, and industry can play together to advance the region’s leadership as an innovation hub. He oversaw CMU’s launch of the $250-million Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute, now an independent public-private partnership. It truly is a time of phenomenal momentum at this university.
I would like to thank Tod Johnson, vice chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee; Jeanne VanBriesen, chair of the Faculty Senate and faculty co-chair of the Presidential Search Committee; and all the members of the search committee, who have taken their responsibility to the university with the utmost seriousness, and conducted a search that was extensive and exhaustive in identifying the right leader for CMU. I also would like to thank all the faculty, staff, students and alumni who provided their perspectives, helping to shape this search in important ways.
I also want to thank Dr. Jahanian for his dedication and service to the university, and for his open and collaborative partnership with the Board of Trustees. His presidency holds enormous promise for Carnegie Mellon University. I know that the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families of this university join me in applauding this appointment and congratulating Dr. Jahanian.
Please see the university’s website at cmu.edu for more information on Dr. Jahanian. If you are on campus, please join us today at noon EST in Rangos Ballroom in the Cohon University Center, for a brief gathering to celebrate this important milestone for Carnegie Mellon University. For those of you who cannot join in person, the webcast information is available at cmu.edu.
James E. Rohr, Chair
Carnegie Mellon University Board of Trustees