Carnegie Mellon University

December 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Pittsburgh Campus Community: 

As we conclude this extraordinary fall semester, I wish to express my gratitude for your collaboration and creativity during this unique and challenging year. 

Our students, faculty and staff have demonstrated incredible resilience under constantly changing conditions and I am so impressed by the many ways you have stepped up to face such unprecedented challenges. I know it has not been easy and I recognize how eager we all are for a return to normalcy, but I also take pride in the way we got through this year together. As we prepare to close out 2020, I hope you can each find time to rest, recharge and reflect on all that we have accomplished. 

One of our most successful strategies has been a comprehensive set of testing, tracing and isolation protocols to protect our community while we await a vaccine. As a designated Point of Distribution (POD), we are hopeful we will receive a high-volume supply of vaccines once they are broadly released so we can provide this critical service to our community. In the meantime, today I am pleased to announce significant progress in the development of a CMU testing lab to process high volumes of asymptomatic COVID-19 tests for the spring semester. This lab will allow Carnegie Mellon to make expanded asymptomatic testing available to all Pittsburgh-based students, faculty and staff, which supports our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

The Tartan COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Program, or “Tartan Testing” for short, will launch in January 2021 using two locations: a sample collection site in the East Campus Garage and a CLIA High-Complexity laboratory in the Pittsburgh Technology Center (PTC) building, where samples will be processed by our trained staff. We have been in touch with the leadership of the various units working in those facilities to discuss the safety precautions that have been implemented to ensure the well-being of those present on site. Additional information on the program and its rollout will be shared in January. 

Launching this lab is a tremendous effort and I am grateful to all those who are contributing to this endeavor. I particularly wish to acknowledge the leadership of Michael McQuade, Vice President for Research, and Gina Casalegno, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs, who have been supported by countless teams across CMU. I am also grateful to the CMU faculty who have been providing valuable guidance and expertise, including Jonathan Minden, Professor of Biological Sciences, and Anne Robinson, Department Head and Trustee Professor of Chemical Engineering. 

Finally, as we approach this season of giving, let us continue to show care and compassion to one another, especially when some members of our community may be experiencing feelings of isolation. I also wish to take this opportunity to remind our students that dedicated financial resources from the federal CARES Act Relief Fund and CMU’s Tartan Emergency Support Fund are available. Undergraduate and graduate students may seek support from both funds as needed, and the grants, which are not loans and do not need to be repaid, can be used to address financial concerns or unusual personal expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19. Students interested in applying for this funding are encouraged to contact their HUB liaison for assistance. 

Once again, thank you for supporting one another during this turbulent year. At every twist in the road, you have been extraordinary colleagues, friends, classmates, advisors and champions, demonstrating the community spirit that defines CMU. It has been an honor to serve alongside you and I look forward to ringing in a new year full of hope, joy and possibilities for a brighter future! 

With warmest wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season, 

Farnam Jahanian
President
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair