Carnegie Mellon University

August 22, 2018

Dear Members of the CMU Community:

At Carnegie Mellon University, our people are our greatest asset. Together, we are guided by the values that serve as our foundation, including diversity, inclusion, integrity, empathy and respect for the dignity of others. In our daily interactions with one another, we must be vigilant in our commitment to building and sustaining a community that exemplifies these core values.

We have made many strides in strengthening our community. But, as many of you know, last week two members of our faculty on the Pittsburgh campus resigned from the university, citing concerns about the treatment of one of them in the workplace. We are committed to thoroughly investigating those concerns, and to acting upon the findings. That inquiry notwithstanding, the senior leadership of the university, including the provost and the deans, recognize that this is an opportunity to check in with our community, reaffirm our commitment to our values and identify ways for us to do better in living up to them.

Accordingly, I am appointing the President’s Task Force on Campus Climate. My charge to this Task Force is to make specific recommendations on steps Carnegie Mellon can take to further support a climate that is more diverse, inclusive, equitable, respectful and understanding for faculty, students and staff across all our campuses and locations. I am also charging the Task Force with evaluating how we respond to incidents that do not comport with our community’s standards and recommending ways to improve this process. The Task Force will review current efforts that are already underway across the campus, including those by the Faculty Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Development, as well as reports prepared by the Faculty Senate and the Task Force on the CMU Experience, among others, to understand how they might inform campus-wide practices. I expect the Task Force’s recommendations to include both short-term, actionable recommendations, and longer-term strategies that may require additional time and resources to realize.

The following faculty and staff have graciously agreed to serve as co-chairs of this task force: David Danks, L.L. Thurstone Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and Department Head in Philosophy; Jodi Forlizzi, Professor and Geschke Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute; and Michelle Piekutowski, associate vice president and chief human resources officer. In the coming weeks, I will send an additional communication to campus with a complete list of Task Force members and a more formal statement of their charge.

In considering whether to convene this Task Force, I was encouraged by the results of the Task Force on the CMU Experience, which, over the course of an academic year, conducted a review of the campus, made substantive recommendations for improvements and is currently leading the implementation of several of them. That progress confirmed for me that this model for bringing people together for open and collaborative discussion and action-planning can effect real change, even amidst deeply complex issues. I am hopeful that this Task Force on campus climate can be equally impactful. I am grateful for the leadership of the Task Force co-chairs and for the support and participation of our community in undertaking this important effort.

I continue to be inspired by Carnegie Mellon’s talented students, accomplished faculty and dedicated staff around the world. Your hard work and collaboration propels this institution toward new standards of excellence in research and education, which deepens our societal impact and elevates our global reputation. At this pivotal time for CMU, I am committed to supporting an environment that allows all of us to do our best work and celebrates the unique contributions we each make. With our collective tenacity, compassion and wisdom, we can continue to build and sustain a campus climate of which we are all proud.


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair