Carnegie Mellon University
January 12, 2023

Rick Siger Nominated to Serve in Shapiro-Davis Administration

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

Happy New Year! Today, Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro announced a series of appointments to his cabinet and I am pleased to share that he has nominated Rick Siger, my chief of staff and senior adviser, to serve as Secretary of Community and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Rick has consistently demonstrated a commitment to public service and a passion for merging innovative ideas with thoughtful public policy. He is uniquely well suited to oversee the Department of Community and Economic Development’s mission to foster job and business growth and support the vitality of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Although this news is bittersweet because it means the university will no longer have direct access to Rick’s leadership, I am excited for all that the Commonwealth will gain from his vision and dedication.

Rick has spent a total of seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and in addition to serving as my chief of staff since 2020, he has also been serving as lead adviser on economic development and community engagement, working with regional and national partners to help ensure the university generates broad-based impact and opportunity. This work is particularly important in shaping CMU’s influence and partnerships in the Pittsburgh region. Most recently, he played a critical role in developing the winning proposal from Carnegie Mellon and more than 90 regional partners for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Build Back Better Challenge. The Southwestern Pennsylvania region was awarded a $62.7 million grant, and the funded projects — including several underway at CMU — will help broaden the scope and impact of the robotics and autonomy ecosystem and help improve opportunity and quality of life. This effort is incredibly important to the future of the region as a leader in innovation.

Rick’s nomination adds to CMU’s long legacy of contributions to public service. Our faculty and staff consistently serve as thought leaders and advisers, helping to define the national research and education agenda. For example, there have been several appointments to senior government positions in the Biden administration, including:

  • Jeanne vanBriesen, the Duquesne Light Company Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, being appointed to lead the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems at the National Science Foundation;
  • Costa Samaras, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, selected to serve as chief adviser for energy policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
  • Nickolas Guertin, a former senior systems engineer from the SEI, now serving as the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation for the Department of Defense and nominated by President Biden to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Our faculty and staff are also frequently called to testify on science, technology and policy matters before Congress and are tapped by federal agencies to serve on advisory councils and commissions on fields critical to the nation.

As Rick departs for Harrisburg, Tricia O’Reilly, senior director for executive communications in the President's Office, will serve as interim chief of staff. Tim McNulty, associate vice president for government relations, will oversee the economic development matters as he is already deeply engaged in this work. We will continue to evaluate this portfolio and develop a staffing plan that meets the university’s long-term needs.

Once again, please join me in congratulating Rick on his nomination and thanking him for his public service!


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman’s President’s Chair