Carnegie Mellon University
August 30, 2021

A Warm Welcome

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

Welcome to the new academic year! As classes begin, I am filled with optimism and a profound sense of gratitude.

I am grateful to see people joining our communities in person, to recognize familiar faces under masks, and to start this year of transition. I am grateful to the many individuals who have been relentlessly innovative during these recent challenges, including our faculty, staff, and academic and administrative leadership. And I am grateful to the CMU students who have demonstrated such resilience, and the families who have supported them. Students: it is so wonderful to see you! Your energy is breathing new life into our campuses – and it is a joy to behold. 

New and Returning Students

Our exceptional academic reputation continues to attract more of the world’s most talented students. We had a record-breaking number of applicants for our incoming undergraduate class, representing a staggering 25 percent jump over last year. And this week, approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in Pittsburgh and Doha and a record enrollment of 4,500 graduate students across all locations joined us on our CMU journey, bringing remarkable talent and diverse perspectives to our community. Welcome!

I also wish to warmly welcome back our returning students – many of whom have not set foot on our campus for 18 months, if at all! To our returning students: we missed you! Your arrival reminds us of the importance of our close-knit community – and the value of a robust campus life anchored by the residential experience.

A Year of Transition – and Continued Resilience

Optimism notwithstanding, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges, even as life moves forward under a new set of norms. The delta variant is concerning, and the surge of cases in our nation and around the world is distressing to all. This pandemic is not over, and we must remain vigilant in our mitigation efforts and embrace a shared commitment to health and well-being.

As we resume on-campus engagement, science-driven and evidence-based approaches continue to guide our pandemic protocols. As Tartans, we wear masks when conditions warrant it, and when required to do so by our campus posture, and we embrace vaccines as our best protection against the virus. The community response to our vaccination requirements has been uniformly positive and I am pleased that our COVID-19 dashboard shows more than 86 percent of our community has already been verified as fully vaccinated – with an additional 2 percent who are partially vaccinated and on their way to achieving full vaccination protection. Many more will be verified in the coming days.

Building on Excellence in Education, Research and Student Experience

Our new year begins with exciting opportunities to build on the success of the recent past – in education, research and the student experience – including: 

  • We graduated close to 5,000 students in May 2021, who joined the ranks of 120,000 CMU alumni living in 144 countries around the word.
  • We completed our multi-year renovation project of classrooms and learning spaces across our Pittsburgh campus, with 87 spaces receiving upgrades to advance technology-enabled and hands-on learning. In addition, the Hall of the Arts opened to stoke the creativity of faculty and students in the arts and humanities.
  • We opened a new residence hall at Fifth & Clyde in Pittsburgh, and broke ground on Forbes and Beeler Apartments. We will continue to invest in the holistic student experience, including breaking ground this year on the new CMU-Highmark Health, Wellness and Athletics Center.
  • With the support of key partners and sponsors, CMU thought leaders advanced strategic priorities in research and societal impact, including the Science@CMU initiative, the Manufacturing Futures Institute, the Sustainability Initiative and AI at CMU. We also announced cross-disciplinary centers, such as The Center for Shared Prosperity, the Collaboratory Against Hate and the Robotics Innovation Center.
  • All of our schools and colleges participated in developing virtual programs that highlighted CMU’s research and creativity, and enabled dialogue on important national issues, such as public health, free speech, democracy, and the future of work.
  • Our community made meaningful progress on our ongoing journey to embed diversity, equity and inclusion across the university, including enacting strategic DEI plans for all administrative and academic units.
  • We continued to expand our efforts to promote access, affordability and student success, including committing to meet the full, demonstrated financial need for undergraduate students, expanding our Tartan Scholars program for high-achieving students from limited-resource backgrounds, and opening the Student Academic Success Center in Posner Hall.
  • Last year CMU had its best fundraising year ever, providing new resources to fuel the exceptional work of our faculty, students and staff. These results are accelerating progress on the Make Possible campaign, to which over 52,000 supporters have so far generously contributed $1.72 billion toward our $2 billion goal.

There is so much to be inspired by at Carnegie Mellon, and at this pivotal time for society, I encourage you to seize the opportunities this new academic year offers.

Finally, let us remember and celebrate that which unites us – our shared humanity. The world needs our thoughtfulness and compassion just as much as – if not more than – our scholarship and creativity. Be kind to one another. Especially during a time when many may still be struggling with this pandemic, contemplating the comfort and needs of others can make all the difference. By letting empathy and respect guide our interactions on and off campus, we can inspire these values in all whom we encounter.

On behalf of the university’s academic and administrative leadership team, I wish you all a healthy and successful year, and I look forward to seeing you around campus. 

Warm regards,
Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair