Carnegie Mellon University

November 11, 2013

Dear Members of the CMU Community:

Since I arrived at Carnegie Mellon in late June of this year, I have had the privilege of receiving enormous community input from faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees, parents and friends of the university. Listening tours and town hall meetings, with faculty members from different schools and colleges and with the faculty senate, have also been accompanied by several focused retreats with all the deans and department heads, and other members of the senior leadership team.

As I indicated to you in an email message a few weeks ago, the input from our community also pointed to significant new opportunities for CMU in enhancing our impact and leadership role in the area of technology-enhanced learning. Specifically, a number of you addressed the need to crystallize our unique strengths into a coherent set of activities that would leverage our history of innovation, research and accomplishments to develop new pathways to further enhance learning outcomes for students on our campuses, across the country and around the world.

I am pleased to respond to these suggestions and input by announcing today the creation of The Simon Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. This initiative is named in tribute to the work of the late CMU faculty member and Nobel laureate Herbert Simon, who made many essential contributions to cognitive psychology, computer science, and their application to the learning sciences.

Today’s announcement includes three key components:

  • The Simon Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University
  • The Global Learning Council, comprising thought leaders with proven experience in the areas of education and learning, to develop collaboratively metrics, best practices and standards that enhance learning outcomes
  • Open sharing of the most comprehensive educational data bank on technology-enhanced learning

More details on each of these components are available in the news release at

The launch of the Simon Initiative will be accompanied by the introduction of a new seed funding mechanism at CMU, providing opportunities for all activities related to the initiative across the university. With the enthusiastic endorsement and participation of the leadership of all the schools and colleges within CMU, this effort will seek to accelerate innovation and research to further enhance learning outcomes. The Simon Initiative will also coordinate campus-wide activities with the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, the Science of Learning Center jointly administered with the University of Pittsburgh and funded by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI) activities, and other organizations on campus to connect research on learning with CMU courses and the on-campus experiences of students and faculty.  Through the Simon Initiative, the university will create further strategic links between learning research and the development of new technology, products and entrepreneurial activities.

Rapid developments in technology offer the potential to improve education and learning outcomes through new ways of strengthening CMU’s unique role in research, innovation and global engagement.

The Simon Initiative and its different components aim to tap into this opportunity to benefit not only the CMU community, but also learners everywhere.

With warmest wishes,

Subra Suresh