Carnegie Mellon University

October 31, 2016

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community,

The settlement of a major patent infringement lawsuit, which I wrote to you about in February, has provided Carnegie Mellon with a unique opportunity to articulate and support the values we cherish as an institution and as a community. I am pleased to share with you plans for using these funds for the lasting benefit of the university, in support of its people and their ideas, and the contributions CMU makes to the world through work that matters.

In February, I charged an ad hoc committee comprising Provost Farnam Jahanian, College of Engineering Dean James Garrett and CMU Trustee David Coulter with developing recommendations about how to allocate roughly $250 million in proceeds to the university from the settlement. They solicited broad input and received 77 written proposals from across campus, plus parents, trustees and alumni. They held more than 20 meetings with faculty, students and staff.

The response they received from the CMU community was remarkable in its consensus, and led to a few clear principles, including the importance of creating sustained, long-term benefit to CMU; helping students to afford and succeed at CMU, while enriching the student experience; supporting priorities of the Strategic Plan 2025; investing in human capital and in ideas that may take decades to bear fruit; and acknowledging the commitments and investments made at various levels of the university that supported the breakthrough research at stake in the lawsuit.

From those principles, and other information gathered through this comprehensive process, the committee developed a series of recommendations. First, more than 80 percent of the university-controlled proceeds will go into endowment, benefiting the university now and in perpetuity. Here are some other highlights of the recommendations: up to $120 million for endowed student financial aid, split between undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships; up to $60 million for endowed faculty chairs, allowing us to recruit and retain the finest talent, at both the early career and senior levels; and about $30-$40 million for endowed cross-campus research initiatives, cluster hires and research infrastructure. At least $30 million in expendable funds will be targeted at programs and initiatives that enhance the CMU experience for students, faculty and staff. Some proceeds also will support faculty and staff professional development.

It is worth noting that roughly a third of the total will benefit the College of Engineering, including the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the Data Storage Systems Center — a recognition of the role these entities played in supporting the decades of work that made this possible, leading up to and including the work of Dr. Jose Moura and Dr. Aleksandar Kavcic.

I support these recommendations. Last week, CMU’s Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed this decision to allocate the recommended portion of the settlement proceeds to the university’s endowment, paving the way for us to move forward. There is still much work to be done in the allocation and employment of these resources, and you will hear more about individual programs and initiatives as they come to fruition in the months and years to come. In the meantime, I hope you share my excitement about the opportunities these resources unlock, and their contributions to the momentum of Carnegie Mellon University.

Please join me in thanking all members of the university community who contributed to this outcome, the ad hoc committee, and the hundreds of other members who have given their time, experience and wisdom to help ensure we make the most of this important moment in CMU’s history.


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