Carnegie Mellon University
May 06, 2021

Retirement of Dr. J. Michael McQuade

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I write today to share the news that Dr. J. Michael McQuade, CMU’s vice president for research, will be retiring at the end of this academic year. During his three-year tenure as VPR, Michael has brought a depth of experience across industry, government and academia to this critical role, as well as a deep familiarity with CMU. He has led our research enterprise with a keen and strategic focus, promoting closer collaboration across campus and with the Software Engineering Institute, and encouraging greater connection to industry partners, government agencies and other stakeholders.

Michael is a triple-alumnus of CMU, having earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the Mellon College of Science, and he served on the university’s Board of Trustees for six years. He joined the CMU administration after retiring from the United Technologies Corporation (UTC), where for twelve years he served as senior vice president for science and technology. He previously held senior positions in technology development and business leadership at 3M, Imation and Eastman Kodak.

These experiences have made Michael an exceptional partner to our faculty, staff and students and an outstanding leader among the university’s executive management team. His operational experiences in the private sector enabled him to enhance the quality and throughput of our research support teams at a time of substantial growth in our research activities. He has helped us better understand and better engage key partners from the private sector and our sponsoring federal agencies. Under his leadership, we have seen significant growth in our sponsored research expenditures and we have expanded our private sector partnerships in several strategic areas. Michael has also been a key leader in critical research initiatives including Science@CMU, envisioning the future of our innovation ecosystem at Hazelwood Green, and the expansion of our partnerships with the Department of Defense for basic research and educational opportunities.

A thought leader in our national dialogue on science, technology and policy, Michael served as a founding member of the Defense Innovation Board, an independent federal advisory committee formed in 2016 to advise the Secretary of Defense on how best to advance technological innovation. Previously, he served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 2013 through 2017, and on the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board from 2009 through 2017. CMU has benefitted from Michael’s experience in Washington, D.C., and throughout his tenure as VPR, he has been an important and highly influential advocate, focusing on promoting national investments in research and innovation policy. Michael has also been a strong advocate for the role of universities like CMU in sustaining a vital and connected global research community while effectively balancing the necessary protections of intellectual property and security.

During the pandemic Michael led a university-wide effort to establish the Tartan Testing program, a core element of our overall pandemic response. Tartan Testing, which was set up in less than four months, is a fully certified, high-complexity laboratory, and has completed over 60,000 tests since it opened in January. The success of Tartan Testing has been instrumental to our ability to support more in-person experiences on campus this semester.

I will be conferring with the university’s leadership about the VPR role in the weeks ahead, and I will soon make an announcement about interim leadership and the search for Michael’s successor. Michael will be with us until the end of June, giving us time to manage a smooth transition, and will continue after that to advise the university on several of its strategic initiatives.

As a world-class research institution, a robust research enterprise is core to our mission and touches nearly every corner of this university. Please join me in thanking Michael for his many contributions to growing and strengthening that enterprise. Michael has been a valued counselor, colleague and friend, to me and to so many others, and he will be missed. However, we all support Michael’s decision to retire, and we wish him and his wife, Sharon, all the best.


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair