Carnegie Mellon University

November 16, 2018

Dear Members of the University Community:

Following a rigorous, international search, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. James Garrett, dean of the College of Engineering and the Thomas Lord Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as Carnegie Mellon University’s next provost and chief academic officer, effective January 1, 2019.   

Jim is a visionary and collaborative leader and a highly respected scholar with more than three decades of experience in academia. His deep commitment to strengthening the full breadth of Carnegie Mellon’s excellence across the academic spectrum set him apart from a pool of more than 80 highly qualified men and women from a diverse array of backgrounds who were evaluated by the search committee. Following an exhaustive, six-month search process that began by seeking broad input from the community through several town halls and stakeholder meetings, the search advisory committee was unanimous in their recommendation of Jim Garrett as the right leader for CMU at this time. In their final report, they enthusiastically endorsed Jim as a leader “intensely devoted to the success of the whole institution.”

The role of provost is profoundly important, with primary responsibility for ensuring academic excellence across the university. Jim will be responsible for coordinating the allocation of resources to support our education and research missions and overseeing academic activities across campuses and programs around the world. And as the chief academic officer, he will be instrumental in long-range institutional and academic planning and implementation. 

Throughout his career, Jim has demonstrated a deep commitment to the very qualities that distinguish Carnegie Mellon and serve as the pillars of our Strategic Plan: diversity and inclusion, a transformative student experience, innovative teaching and learning, and a commitment to excellence across disciplines. As dean, his legacy includes strengthening a maker ecosystem that allows students from across campus to engage in hands-on learning, establishing thecollege’s Research Accelerator, leading a college-wide effort to increase the number of women and underrepresented minority faculty and students, and helping to improve the faculty experience through the college’s Center for Faculty Success. 

An exceptional ambassador for CMU, Jim also has leveraged partnerships both regionally and globally to advance research and educational opportunities. He has broadened the impact of our campuses in Rwanda and Silicon Valley, and established an impressive record of raising crucial private support to transform the College of Engineering’s infrastructure and increase its connectivity with the rest of campus.

A triple alumnus, Jim received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from CMU and has been a member of the faculty since 1990. Prior to his role as dean, he was head of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and also previously served as Engineering’s associate dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs. An elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), his researchand teaching interests focus on the use of sensor systems in civil and environmental engineering.

Jim has developed a collegial and collaborative relationship with deans and other leaders across campus. He has worked closely with them on university-wide initiatives and has been supportive of several research and educational collaborations that cut across multiple units, including Metro21, CyLab, the Science@CMU initiative, and a new undergraduate major in Engineering and Arts. He is eager to continue to partner with students, faculty and staff from across the university to develop and execute a vision for strengthening CMU’s excellence in all its depth and diversity. 

I would like to thank the members of the campus community who helped inform the Provost search, and those from across the campus involved in the final stages of the interview process. I am particularly grateful to the members of the Provost Search Advisory Committeefor their diligence. The committee, chaired by Richard Scheines, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of philosophy, and Mary Jo Dively, vice president and general counsel, included representation from all seven schools and colleges. Members include Martin Aurand, 

Martial Hebert, Roberta Klatzky, Kristen Kurland, Diana Marculescu, Curtis Meyer, Scott Mory, 

Michael Murphy, Michael D. Smith, Everett Tademy, Charlie White and Sevin Yeltekin. I am impressed by the thoughtful way in which they analyzed the comparative attributes of a large and diverse pool of highly accomplished candidates.

I also wish to expressmy profound appreciation to Laurie Weingart for her exceptional service as interim provost. Over the past year and a half, Laurie has been an invaluable adviser and partner for me and the entire executive management team, and has advanced the academic priorities of the university during a time of extraordinary momentum. She oversaw the launch of a new university-wide neuroscience institute and has been a critical contributor in the design and implementation of a new academic budget model. And as a leader of the Task Force on the CMU Experience, she has played a key role in the implementation of several of the task force’s recommendations, including fundamental changes to course deadlines in the academic calendar.

Laurie will return to her duties as the Richard M. and Margaret S. Cyert Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory at the Tepper School of Business. A renowned expert in organizational behavior, she will launch an initiative focused on applied research on collaboration and conflict, which aims to promote best practices for collaboration between people with different world views, areas of expertise, demographics or backgrounds. 

As we embark on Carnegie Mellon University’s next exciting chapter, I look forward to working closely with Jim Garrettto lead the university to even higher levels of academic distinction and international recognition.

Please join me in extending a warm and enthusiastic congratulations to Jim on his new role


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair