Carnegie Mellon University
December 10, 2020

University’s Progress to Confront Racism and Promote Equity and Inclusion

Dear Members of the CMU Community: 

This summer, I announced a concrete and expansive action plan to confront racism and promote equity and inclusion at Carnegie Mellon and in the broader communities we serve. As part of our effort to answer the call for meaningful and substantive progress at this inflection point for our society, this initiative builds on several years of ongoing work and is only the beginning of what we hope to achieve in the years ahead.

As we wrap up an eventful fall semester, I am writing today to update you on progress being made across the 34 action items that we announced in July. Since we first launched this work, I have heard consistently from the community, especially our students, that transparency and accountability for these efforts is paramount. With that in mind, I invite you to visit a new microsite containing detailed status updates across all the various actions of our plan. While you will also receive periodic updates from university leadership and through stories posted to and on social media, this site is intended to be a dynamic, living record of our progress. As such, we will continuously update its content, paying special attention to adding data-driven metrics wherever possible to show the impact of our work. In the months ahead, this microsite will be incorporated into our main Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) website, which is currently in the process of being re-designed to better serve our community. 

As previously communicated by Provost Jim Garrett, all of the academic units are finalizing their 5-Year Strategic Plans for DEI. Similarly, the DEI plans for the administrative units are also in their final approval stages. These plans articulate a clear value statement, include measurable goals and strategies to achieve those goals, and will be designed to capture opportunities to increase the diversity of our faculty, students and staff at every level. These plans will be continuously refined and will support the engagement of all CMU community members in being agents of positive change, so I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the details of your college/unit plans as they are finalized. Provost Garrett also reported on a number of other DEI activities that are supporting our academic mission, including the launch of a new Strategic Faculty Opportunity Fund to support the recruitment, retention and development of outstanding scholars in all fields who will contribute to diversity and equity.

As a reminder, our commitments span three broad areas of impact: (1) Commitments to the CMU Community; (2) Commitments to the Expansion of Knowledge and Expertise at CMU; and (3) Commitments to Engagement and Economic Empowerment for the Broader Community. They include actions across short-, medium-, and long-term horizons, as well as several ongoing efforts. Please see below for representative highlights of our progress:

Progress on Commitments to the CMU Community

  • Tartan Scholars: This year’s cohort included 150 total participants, doubling the size of last year’s inaugural cohort and building on the success of this impactful program, which supports undergraduate students who are academically high-achieving and come from underserved communities.
  • Fellowship Programs for Graduate Students: With the support of the Office of the Provost, we are expanding our participation in The National GEM Consortium (GEM). The GEM program helped us to double the number of racially underrepresented students enrolled in our engineering graduate programs between 2017 and 2020. Our participation in GEM will now grow beyond the College of Engineering to include other schools and colleges. We also made the commitment to expand support of the GEM program by ensuring all fellows receive a stipend in addition to full tuition and fees for the duration of their graduate program.
  • Inclusive Teaching Fellows: Future cohorts have been expanded to include 20 fellows, and the call for applications will be announced early in the spring semester. The program explores ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in CMU's course offerings.
  • Transparency and Accountability for CMU Police: CMU has taken the following actions:
    1. Equipped all patrol officers with body cameras earlier this fall;
    2. Updated its training requirements to include sessions on Impartial Policing, Use of Force and Excited Delirium;
    3. Drafted and posted an updated policy on de-escalation tactics;
    4. Revamped its website to include more transparent information on policies and training; and
    5. As they work toward publishing an inaugural annual report in July 2021, the CMU PD has started publishing monthly updates on a broad range of activities on its website.

Progress on Commitment to the Expansion of Knowledge and Expertise at CMU

  • Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) Initiative: The Provost’s Office has funded CAUSE to:
    1. Support two Distinguished Lectureships on policing and health disparities in historical and contemporary perspectives;
    2. Hold two 2-day conferences on the CAUSE Model;
    3. Publish two edited collections of scholarly essays and primary documents on African Americans in Pittsburgh; and
    4. Launch a joint virtual event series with the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy in spring 2021.
  • Faculty Cluster Hires: In the Dietrich College, the departments of History and Modern Languages are now doing coordinated searches for faculty focused on Critical Race Studies, Social Justice, African American Studies and related areas, and the Department of English will do a coordinated search in these areas next year. In the coming months, the provost will also work with the deans of all schools and colleges to develop a plan and a process for additional cross-college cluster hires focusing on these topics.
  • University Archives that Represent Underrepresented Groups: A new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Archivist position will be created within University Libraries to unearth previously hidden stories and acquire additional collections representing the diversity of the university. The University Libraries aims to announce the hire of the DEI Archivist and the creation of a dedicated fund by the end of the spring 2021 semester.

Progress on Commitments to Engagement and Economic Empowerment for Our Broader Community

  • Engagement with Pittsburgh Schools: A cross-divisional team has redesigned our highly successful Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) program to include distinctive opportunities for high school students from the region. In addition, faculty, staff and academic leaders from Dietrich College and the College of Fine Arts are working together to create a plan to realize the vision of a Humanities and Arts Access program (LEAP) for regional students, with a pilot launch planned for summer 2021.
  • Opportunities for Local Executive Talent: Building on the success of the Executive Leadership Academy, the Tepper School of Business is expanding its offerings to include additional programming on C-suite readiness that will target diverse participation, including those in the African American leadership community, as well as additional programming on innovation, fintech and entrepreneurship that will target diverse participants, including entrepreneurs in the LatinX community. In October 2020, the Tepper School launched a Social Innovation and Leading Change program and in January 2021 will begin offering a number of scholarships to allow for diverse participation in its Executive Education programs.
  • Seed Funding Program for Community Projects: We will launch this fund early in the spring semester through a call for proposals. Among other criteria, projects will be considered based on: (1) impact in dismantling structural barriers to opportunity, promoting shared prosperity and supporting cultural expression by diverse artists; (2) effectiveness in building connections with communities in the Pittsburgh region, especially communities of color; and (3) ability to leverage CMU’s existing expertise in education, research and creativity to achieve meaningful outcomes.
  • Access to Local Businesses: CMU’s Procurement Services is collaborating with the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western PA and other partners to enhance our programs for facilitating access to CMU procurement opportunities for local businesses. We are currently creating an internal database that will more accurately track the university's spend with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). This data collection and analysis will inform a recommendation for purchasing across the university at-large.

It is important to note that these updates represent only a small sampling of the work that is underway. I invite you to explore the microsite for a comprehensive update, including details on the person or office responsible for each action item.  

I wish to thank the CMU faculty, staff and students who have been working to advance these critical efforts, with the support of the academic and administrative leadership. I am also grateful for the feedback we have received from members of our community since we first launched this work. We welcome continued input.

As the CMU community unites in dialogue on how to fully realize its DEI goals, every single member of our community has a role to play in supporting these efforts. It is our responsibility to work together — intentionally and with persistent and sustained effort — to assure that racism and prejudice are not tolerated on our campus and to leverage this institution’s position of influence to advance true progress in our society. I have been truly inspired by the engagement I am seeing across this institution on these topics, and I am eager to continue this momentum.

Our entire academic and administrative leadership looks forward to working with this community toward a more inclusive and equitable CMU and for a society that stands up against racism in all its forms. Thank you for standing with us, and for your passion and commitment to bring this work to life. 


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair