Carnegie Mellon University

February 10, 2014

To the Carnegie Mellon Community:

I am writing to provide further updates on progress in the initial areas of focus that have emerged from my listening tour over the past seven months, and to announce a new program to support innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship across the university.

I am announcing today the launch of a university-wide seed-funding program, one of the five theme areas identified from the listening tour. This program is intended to play a catalytic role in supporting promising, creative ideas in education and research, provide support for campus activities and pilot projects, expand creativity and entrepreneurship, and help enhance quality of life in our community.

We have named this overarching program ProSEED, a name that suggests both the organic growth and forward movement that we hope these seed grants will encourage. 

I am delighted to report that we have identified internal and external sources of support so that we can launch ProSEED immediately.  While many existing opportunities for seed-funding on campus will continue, it is our expectation that ProSEED will provide new pathways by which this funding could be leveraged to benefit CMU faculty, students, and staff.

ProSEED also is intended to create new mechanisms for connecting and coordinating other seed-funding programs available at CMU, so that our community can be better positioned to apply for sustained support for their ideas from federal, local, philanthropic, and industrial funding sources.

ProSEED will be the umbrella structure for what I expect will be many seed-funding initiatives available to faculty, staff, and students. While opportunities will be announced periodically, we are launching two of them now, with applications for the first funding cycle for both due March 31.  They are:

  • Simon Initiative Seed Grants.  The Simon Initiative is supporting innovation at CMU in learning science research and its application to CMU courses and curricula. There will be grants for faculty to develop technology-enhanced courses or course modules, or other research projects that use data-driven learning technologies.  This program will be administered through The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation. Details of how to apply for Simon Initiative Seed Grants ».
  • Crosswalk.  These grants will empower ideas for new connections and collaborations across campus, on any number of dimensions. Although intended primarily for the benefit of CMU students, they offer sufficient flexibility for faculty and staff to connect with student activities to improve the campus experience for all. Designed to inspire bold creativity and entrepreneurship, these grants could support such activities as:
    • Student research pilot projects that push boundaries across two or more departments or colleges;
    • Quality of life projects that support social or cultural connections across student organizations, academic units, or house communities;
    • Courses or new sections of popular courses to expand access for non-majors;
    • Support for student competitions or cross-campus teams formed to solve an urgent problem or tackle a major challenge;
    • Service learning in the community, in partnership with off-campus groups or organizations; and
    • Symposia or strategic workshops intended to bring thought leaders to campus for focused discussions across organizational boundaries.

These examples are designed to inspire you, but not limit you. Our goal is to seed your innovative ideas that can improve life for you, for CMU, and for the world.

I have very much appreciated getting to know you through the listening tour events and through your comments, suggestions and questions.  I saw firsthand your impressive commitment to building a stronger university. Thank you!

I will continue to provide updates on these initiatives, and I look forward to hearing your continued suggestions and thoughts.

With warm wishes for a productive, healthy, and happy Spring Semester,

Subra Suresh
Carnegie Mellon University