Carnegie Mellon University

September 5, 2014

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community:

I am writing to inform you of two important leadership searches.  First, we are launching the search for the Provost, a position that, as you know, Professor Nathan Urban currently holds in an interim capacity. I am very grateful to Nathan for his service to Carnegie Mellon in this interim role.

The Provost of the university serves as chief academic officer, a profoundly critical role in all facets of institutional endeavor.  Reporting directly to the President, the Provost serves as a visionary leader, facilitating at the highest strategic and operational levels the academic excellence reflected throughout all of our research and educational priorities.  Especially critical at Carnegie Mellon is the role that the Provost plays in fostering cross-departmental collaboration and innovation, a hallmark of our institutional ethos and success.  Moreover, the Provost is a lynchpin in linking our multiple campuses, while building strong relationships with external public, private, and corporate partners throughout the world.  The academic Deans report to the Provost, as do a number of other core academic support units headed by the Vice Provosts.

I have appointed a Search Advisory Committee, which will provide me with input for consideration in my selection of the next Provost.  The committee, co-chaired by Farnam Jahanian, Vice President for Research, and Michael Murphy, Vice President for Campus Affairs, includes the following members:

  • Eric Anderson, Associate Professor, Design and Associate Dean, College of Fine Arts
  • Linda Argote, Carnegie Bosch Professor, Tepper School of Business
  • Irene Fonseca, University Professor, Mathematics, Mellon College of Science
  • Jelena Kovačević, Professor and Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Roberta Klatzky, Professor, Psychology and immediate past Chair of the Faculty Senate
  • Kristin Kurland, Teaching Professor, Heinz College and College of Fine Arts
  • Andrew Moore, Professor and Dean, School of Computer Science

The advisory committee will be committed to engagement with members of the broader community to help inform the search, within obvious constraints of strict confidentiality.  The committee will be assisted throughout by Ilene Nagel with the international search firm of Russell Reynolds.  The search will begin soon, with a target of making the final appointment in Spring 2015, and a nominal start date of July 1, 2015.  Once the position is formally posted, in the next several weeks, nominations may be made directly through Russell Reynolds.  Further details can be found atwww.cmu.edu/provost-search.  In addition, anyone wishing to provide input or ask questions may do so by contacting the co-chairs directly, or through the confidential email address specifically set up for this purpose at provostsearch@andrew.cmu.edu.

Second, during my listening tours last year, you identified, as one of the most pressing priorities, the critical need to strengthen our communications infrastructure so as to powerfully transmit Carnegie Mellon’s achievements, values, aspirations and brand to an increasingly diverse global audience.  This point also surfaced as a top priority in the department heads’ retreat I held last year, and in subsequent meetings of the deans, senior leaders of the university, and the CMU trustees.

As a result of this broad-based community input, a few months ago we engaged the international public relations firm, Edelman, for both an organizational analysis of our marketing and communications functions and for the development of our university-wide communications strategy.  Edelman has held numerous meetings with key stakeholders and staff across campus in the schools and colleges and with the deans and senior leadership team.

Following this review, Edelman has made the strong recommendation that one of our first steps should be to strengthen the communications and brand management capacity of the university by changing the organizational structure of the marketing and communications group.  This important step would be designed to create stronger cross-campus synergies, foster greater collaboration between university-wide activities and intra-college activities, deliver economies of scale, and enable the excellent work of our faculty and students to become more widely known.  After consulting with the deans and other senior leaders on campus, I have decided to accept this recommendation. We will immediately be undertaking a search for a marketing and communications vice president, reporting directly to me.  Such a position already exists in most major research institutions across the country, and several leading institutions that did not have such a position, recently took the step to establish it.

While we undertake the search to identify a new leader for marketing and communications and design a model to seamlessly integrate campus-wide activities with unit-specific efforts, Edelman has arranged for a senior executive, Thomas Mattia, to guide us through this organizational transition. Tom will report to me on an interim basis until the search for the new CMU vice president is completed. Tom served as SVP and Director of Worldwide Public Affairs and Communications for the Coca-Cola Company, following which he served as the Chairman of Edelman China, and later as the Chief Communications Officer of Yale University.

As part of this reorganization, the new vice president will oversee the entire marketing and communications function for the university, currently residing in the Advancement division.  In addition to enhancing the impact of our communications, this structural change has an added benefit of allowing deep focus on fundraising and global alumni engagement by the Advancement Division.  This action is one that I see as an important investment to benefit the university as a whole, particularly as it enables us to lay the foundation for major resource development activities.

I appreciate your valuable input to me during the past year as part of my listening tours.  I am grateful to you for your continued counsel and support as I implement specific actions arising from your suggestions, and as we build the leadership team that will best serve the vision of our faculty, students, staff and alumni throughout the world.

Sincerely,

Subra Suresh
President
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Carnegie Mellon University