Carnegie Mellon University

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon University Community,

Like so many of you, I am deeply troubled by some of the news out of Washington in recent days, and potential threats – explicit and implicit – posed to the work of so many students and scholars across the nation who were not born in the United States. This issue goes to the very foundation of who we are at Carnegie Mellon, and to how well we can fulfill our mission of education, research and creativity in the service of the nation and the world.

The topic of immigration is very personal to me. As I reflected in my inaugural address at CMU in November 2013, I first came to the U.S. at age 21 with a partially filled suitcase, less than $100 in cash, and a one-way airplane ticket purchased with a loan. Once in the U.S., I was able to pursue a series of extraordinary opportunities for scholarship and service without regard for my national origin — an experience that forged in me an unshakeable faith in the ability of this nation to help everyone to succeed, wherever they came from. This trust in the system was reinforced even more strongly a few years ago when I was nominated by the President of the United States to lead the National Science Foundation and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, without partisan considerations and without regard to my national origin.

My own story is just one among millions that have shaped the history of this country. Immigration and international collaboration are not footnotes in the story of higher learning. Andrew Carnegie, CMU’s founder and such a central figure in America’s industrial dominance during his time, was an immigrant. All six Americans who were awarded Nobel Prizes in 2016 were born abroad, as were a substantial portion of the membership of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Tens of thousands of foreign-born students, researchers, scholars, innovators and faculty members across the country, including many at CMU, do pioneering work at the cutting-edge of science, technology and artistic creativity. The point is clear: our very prosperity and security as a nation, and thus our freedom, depend in part on the people who come to this country from around the world.

What I wish to emphasize here is my own personal commitment, along with the commitment of the CMU community at every level. We will do all that is within our power, as individuals, as an institution, and by working through national organizations such as the Association of American Universities and with federal, state and local officials, to support our international students and scholars to the fullest extent possible.  

I also would like to reiterate our core values and the specific steps we are already taking to help those vulnerable to recent developments: 

  • continuation of our support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
  • admitting, welcoming and nurturing qualified students from all corners of the globe without regard to their national origin, religion or race through a process that is free of discrimination;
  • ensuring that the privacy and confidentiality of all students are fully maintained while complying with all federal and state laws;
  • not providing immigration or nationality information on any individual unless compelled by law;
  • offering advice on immigration matters and confidential counseling for students; and
  • further strengthening student support through our Office of International Education during this time of need.

For more information, please see the OIE website

In addition, we will soon encourage community-wide participation in a forum for the CMU family, where you will have further opportunities to learn about evolving conditions and specific university support in various areas of concern. This will be accompanied by the creation of a support group that would allow a standing forum for such discussion.

Throughout my career, I have been a beneficiary of a unique and remarkable system that placed hard work and accomplishments above individual identity and geography. As president of this great university, I will do everything within my capacity to ensure that our extraordinarily talented students, staff and faculty receive similar opportunities through the core values that underlie our university and our nation.


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

Executive Orders Affecting Immigration and Travel: January 28, 2017