Carnegie Mellon University
January 12, 2021

Message from University Leadership

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

Last week, we watched in shock and horror as a mob, incited by the President of the United States during a speech he made on the Ellipse, led an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in a brazen effort to stop Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election. As stated last week, the CMU community condemns this unprecedented attack on our democracy. Both the insurrection and the incitement of it crossed the line and cannot be viewed as the kind of protected political free speech that has been foundational to our nation since its very origin.

The insurrectionists who stormed the seat of government at the Capitol and threatened violence on our elected representatives were attempting to undermine a central tenet of American democracy – the peaceful transfer of power. For over 200 years, this has been the hallmark of our democratic tradition and has endured through times of war and even fractious recounts.

This riot, which has led to the death of at least five people, including one Capitol police officer, was the culmination of a shameful effort to cast doubt on the results of the election by perpetuating lies of widespread election fraud. We denounce this deception, especially those who continue to do so after over 60 court cases have rejected these unsubstantiated claims, and now that the election results have been officially certified. The events of January 6 have highlighted that, beyond being insidious and widespread, misinformation of this kind is an increasingly dangerous and existential threat to our nation. We believe it is not enough to condemn the violence; the nation must also explore the effects of misinformation that is spread pervasively by technology and social media, and we believe that academic institutions have an important role to play in this examination.

As the leaders of Carnegie Mellon University, we are a diverse group of professionals and academics from a wide swath of backgrounds and disciplines representing viewpoints across the political spectrum. But what makes us different from one another is far less important than what connects us. We are all Americans. We are all wholeheartedly dedicated to the shared values of this institution and its mission to promote knowledge, seek truth, solve problems and debate ideas in a culture of free expression. These are the qualities that make our nation’s universities – and our nation – truly exceptional, and we view the events of last week as corrosive to their collective foundations. As such, now more than ever, we must embrace vigilance in our dedication to constructive and respectful discourse that is grounded in fact and backed by evidence.

While we remain deeply troubled by what took place, we still find reasons for hope moving forward. The events of January 6 may be seared into our collective consciousness, but the rioters ultimately failed in their effort to stop the certification of the election and their allies and leaders are now on the defensive. The institutions of our democracy have held and endured, from state election officials of both parties who fulfilled their obligations with honor, to federal and state judges who refused to give quarter to baseless claims. 

Next week, we will come together to celebrate the quadrennial renewal of our democratic republic with the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and begin the next chapter of our nation’s ongoing journey to become a more perfect union. 


Farnam Jahanian, President

James Garrett, Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, Dean, Tepper School of Business

Angela Blanton, Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Mary Jo Dively, Vice President and General Counsel, and Secretary of the Corporation

Rebecca Doerge, Dean, Mellon College of Science

Martial Hebert, Dean, School of Computer Science

Charles A. Kennedy, Chief Investment Officer

Ramayya Krishnan, Dean, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

Dan Martin, Dean, College of Fine Art

Michael McQuade, Vice President for Research

Scott Mory, Vice President for University Advancement and Interim Vice President for Marketing & Communications

William Sanders, Dean, College of Engineering

Richard Scheines, Dean, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Rick Siger, Senior Advisor to the President

Michael Steidel, Dean, Admissions

Michael Trick, Dean, Qatar Campus

Stan Waddell, Chief Information Officer

Keith Webster, Dean, University Libraries

Daryl Weinert, Chief of Staff and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives