Carnegie Mellon University

November 18, 2014

Dear Members of the University Community:

Six months ago, I wrote to you to announce the launch of a new key priority project: endowed Presidential Fellowships for graduate students and endowed Presidential Scholarships for undergraduate students. (A copy of my May 13, 2014, letter to the CMU community can be accessed here). This project was in direct response to the input I received from the CMU community during my listening tour. 

Today, I am delighted to inform you that in the past six months, we have generated a permanent endowment of approximately $80 million to support this newly established Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships program.  This pool of endowed funds was created through a variety of mechanisms.  External fundraising from alumni and nonprofit foundations was accelerated through the collaborative efforts of individual CMU faculty members, department heads, deans, trustees and other university leaders.  I am also pleased to report that every college/school at CMU will benefit from the student financial support made possible by this program.

While the past six months have yielded very encouraging results, CMU’s need for permanently endowed fellowships and scholarships far exceeds our current ability to offer financial support to attract and retain top talent in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.  Generating endowment for financial support of students has been an area that has historically underperformed in comparison to other categories of successful fundraising in prior capital campaigns.  Therefore, significantly growing our endowment for student support will remain a key priority for me and for the university for years to come.

To put the potential impact of this project in perspective, consider the support of graduate students. The standard annual draw from an endowed fund of $1 million will just about cover the full academic year tuition of only one Ph.D. student per year, from the nearly 2,000 doctoral students on campus at this time. 

The first cohort of Presidential Fellowship recipients will be selected in spring 2015 through a process overseen by the Office of the Provost that will invite nominations from the department heads and deans of the schools and colleges.  The Office of Undergraduate Admission, with input from the provost and the deans, will help select the Presidential Scholarship recipients, beginning with the admissions cycle for the next academic year.

I am most grateful to our faculty and staff colleagues, alumni, academic and administrative leaders, trustees and nonprofit foundations for their passionate commitment to this project; for their generosity; and for the collegial and thoughtful manner in which they have helped galvanize our community to demonstrate rapid success in the early stages of this very important effort.  Further details on the Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships program, including the selection process and the names of benefactors, will be announced next semester.

With warm wishes,

Subra Suresh