Carnegie Mellon University

August 29, 2016

Dear Members of the CMU Community:

I am delighted to welcome the Carnegie Mellon University community back for the 2016-2017 academic year.

As we undertake another year of teaching and learning, scholarship and research, creativity and innovation, we share a common mission: enhancing the human condition. Many of us are returning to this exceptional community of scholars, here in Pittsburgh and around the globe. We are joined by 1,683 new undergraduate and 3,340 new graduate students, who will soon get to know the ambitious nature of this work, the passion behind it, and the distinctive, collaborative approach that leads to creative new solutions.

New arrivals will notice that CMU is in the midst of an historic expansion, building and refurbishing infrastructure to support students, faculty and staff, at work and in their daily lives. This is the physical manifestation of our redoubled commitment to enhance the CMU Experience, as articulated in our Strategic Plan 2025 launched during the past year; equally important changes are taking place in programming and human infrastructure. Even as we plan for the opening of a new Health & Wellness Center in 2019, with double the footprint of the current facility, we are adding a Counseling and Psychological Services annex in Oakland, where many students live and study, and we have recruited additional counselors to expand office hours and ensure that anybody who needs immediate help can be seen promptly, around the clock. We also are adding staff in University Health Services and Student Affairs, who are dedicated to expanding wellness programs and initiatives.

As detailed in my April email to the CMU community, we have assembled the President’s Advisory Board for the CMU Experience, which will meet for the first time this fall. Drawing together external experts from around the nation, along with parents and alumni, this board will provide me with counsel based on its insights and best practices. That message also announced the launch of an internal Task Force for the CMU Experience, which has been convened by Provost Farnam Jahanian and comprises working groups of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The Task Force has recommended immediate changes to improve the CMU Experience, which will be detailed in a campus message in September, including some that have already been implemented.

Another path toward fulfilling our mission lies in recruiting and retaining the very best talent across all disciplines and functions, while nurturing the diversity of experience and perspectives that leads to the best possible outcomes across our endeavors. This year, 255 students from all seven colleges and schools at CMU are supported by our Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships program, which was established two years ago and now has grown to a permanent endowment of about $170 million. We also are taking concrete steps across campus in a coordinated manner to revamp faculty hiring practices. The work of the Advisory Board and Task Force will help ensure that we further foster a culture that supports all students, faculty and staff throughout their time at CMU.

This fall we welcome the arrival of Rebecca Doerge, dean of the Mellon College of Science, and Rodney McClendon, vice president for Operations. Together with Gina Casalegno’s promotion to vice president for Student Affairs, these additions enrich the excellence and diversity of experience among our leadership team. Our strong commitment to attracting outstanding and diverse talent to CMU also led to a record number of incoming women undergraduates, with remarkable proportions of women undergraduates joining our highly ranked School of Computer Science and College of Engineering — between two to three times the national average in these disciplines.

All of these efforts are bolstered by significant growth in philanthropy at CMU, marked by three continuous years of strong fundraising. This generous support has been made possible only through the coordinated efforts of our deans, faculty, staff and advancement professionals, who have taken their collaboration to a new level. Similarly, the global visibility and reputation of the university have benefitted from a more strategic, collaborative approach among the leadership, faculty and staff across campus.

I hope to hear your thoughts and answer your questions on these and other developments at my annual Town Hall in November. Meanwhile, as we embark on another year of promise, I encourage you to take advantage of all that Carnegie Mellon has to offer, from its vibrant intellectual and creative life to the rich community outside the classrooms, labs and studios. I encourage you, too, to support and care for one another, and make the most of Carnegie Mellon’s greatest asset, its people.


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