Carnegie Mellon University
April 10, 2024

Announcing a Gift to Support Art at CMU

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community:

Great universities embrace art to enrich their campuses and communities, shape culture and inspire learning. We have enthusiastically followed this philosophy for decades at CMU, where our College of Fine Arts as well as public art installations spark ideas, create conversation and help to bring meaning to our experiences.

In the years ahead, the impact of art at Carnegie Mellon will continue to grow thanks to a $10 million commitment from alumni and longtime benefactors Cindy and Tod Johnson.

Cindy and Tod’s gift will support public art at CMU in two important ways. Half of the gift will create the Tod and Cindy Johnson Endowment for Public Art, which will support programming at the Institute for Contemporary Art Pittsburgh (ICA), as well as the acquisition of new art for the campus. The other half will support the ICA’s new and expanded home in the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences, for which we will break ground this Friday, April 12.

In recognition of Cindy and Tod’s generosity, a gallery in the ICA Pittsburgh will be named for them. Additionally, the position of public art curator, currently held by ICA Director Elizabeth Chodos, will be renamed as the Johnson Family Public Art Curator. You can read more about the gift, as well as Cindy and Tod’s extraordinary journey at CMU, in this news story published earlier today.

We are incredibly grateful to Cindy and Tod, who have been two of our most generous and visionary supporters, for this newest philanthropic investment in the CMU community. Their CMU story began when they met here as students and has continued through many years of service, including Tod’s more than 40 years as a member of our Board of Trustees.

In 2018, they gave $50 million for a transformational endowment that supports undergraduate scholarships as well as activities that help students stay on the path to graduation. The contribution was the single largest gift for scholarship support in the university’s history. In addition, their previous gifts include the establishment of the Herbert A. Simon Professorship of Economics and Psychology, support for the Tepper Quad and Purnell Center for the Arts, and an endowment for the university’s Fifth-Year Scholars Program.

With Cindy and Tod’s latest gift, I’m pleased to share that nearly 67,000 Tartan community members have given $2.3 billion in support of the university through Make Possible: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University.

Public art has enhanced our campus for decades, with iconic installations including “Walking to the Sky,” murals by Douglas Cooper and Stefani Danes in the Cohon University Center and Tepper Quad, and Kraus Campo in the courtyard behind the College of Fine Arts Building. In 2013, the university formally adopted the Simonds Principles for campus design, one of which requires incorporating public art in all new building construction. In recent years, new works have been commissioned for Alan Magee Scaife HallTCS Hall and Fifth and Clyde House. Later this year, we will unveil a new commission by Amanda Ross-Ho at the residence hall on Forbes and Beeler, as well as a work by Guadalupe Maravilla at the Highmark Center for Health, Wellness and Athletics.

I hope you will join me in congratulating Dean Mary Ellen Poole, School of Art Head Charlie White, ICA Director Elizabeth Chodos, and our colleagues in University Advancement, on this incredible gift.

Once again, please join me in thanking Cindy and Tod Johnson for their exceptional generosity!


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair