June 17, 2019
Dear Members of the CMU Community,
I am delighted to announce a landmark gift from alumnus Lane Bess and his wife, Letty, that will endow the dean's chair in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This $10 million commitment will allow the college to invest in key strategic initiatives and emerging priorities for its extraordinary programs. In recognition of this generous gift, the university will establish the Bess Family Dean's Chair of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which will be held by Dean Richard Scheines, who recently was reappointed to a second five-year term.
Lane graduated from Dietrich College, then known as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, in 1983, with a degree in managerial economics. For more than 30 years, he has successfully launched startups and built technology businesses both domestically and internationally, including in Europe, Asia Pacific and other regions. Lane is the principal at Bess Ventures and Advisory, a firm he founded in 2015. Prior to this, he was the chief operating officer of Zscaler Inc., a leader in cloud-based internet security services.
From 2008 to 2011, Lane was CEO of Palo Alto Networks, where he led the company ahead of its IPO. From 2002 to 2007, he was executive vice president of worldwide sales and general manager at Trend Micro Corporation. He also held positions at NCR Corporation and AT&T earlier in his career.
Lane was appointed to CMU's Board of Trustees this May. He also has served on the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board since 2016. He and Letty previously have provided philanthropic support to CMU for scholarships, internships and Dietrich College’s Grand Challenge Seminars program.
Dietrich College's curriculum and research cross disciplines to solve problems that are important to our society and the world. Through Lane and Letty's generosity, Dean Scheines and his successors will be able to seed bold innovations in research and education. It is a truly transformational commitment to the college, and we are most grateful for the Bess family's support.
Please join me in congratulating Richard and the Dietrich College community, and in thanking Lane and Letty for their generosity and commitment
Henry L. Hillman Chair