Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

Aug. 10: Robert Wilburn Joins Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College in Washington, D.C.


Ken Walters

Robert Wilburn Joins Carnegie Mellon's
Heinz College in Washington, D.C.

WilburnPITTSBURGH—Robert C. Wilburn has joined Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College in Washington, D.C., as distinguished service professor and director. Heinz College Washington, D.C., was established in 2008 to strengthen the college's connections to national and international policy makers and organizations. In this new role, Wilburn will help build on the Heinz College's early success in the U.S. capital and strengthen the college's relationships with external constituencies, including policy leaders, congressional delegations, government agencies and other related organizations.

"I am pleased to have a person with such an impressive public leadership track record to head our team in Washington, D.C.," said Ramayya Krishnan, dean of the Heinz College. "Bob's significant experience transforming public and educational institutions, along with his strong professional connections in Washington, makes him an outstanding fit for this role. This hire exemplifies our continued commitment to raise the visibility and impact of the Heinz College and its School of Public Policy and Management."

Wilburn has served as chief executive officer in five very different environments over the past 30 years. He joins Carnegie Mellon from the Gettysburg Foundation, where he was president and CEO since 2000. Wilburn led the nonprofit in forging a public-private partnership with the National Park Service to secure $120 million to open the new Gettysburg museum and visitor center. The success of this partnership has become a model within the government and nonprofit communities.

"I look forward to working with Executive Director Marie Coleman, her staff and the Heinz College faculty in Washington, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Adelaide, to create exciting new opportunities for our students and the college," Wilburn said.

Prior to 2000, Wilburn was president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Through innovative and interactive on-site programming and an award-winning marketing campaign, he helped to double donor support and enable a successful $500 million campaign. While at Gettysburg and Colonial Williamsburg, Wilburn and his wife, Pat, organized and hosted numerous dinners, meetings, conferences and events for royalty, current and former heads of state from all parts of the world including four U.S. presidents, foreign ministers, ambassadors, governors, senators, business leaders and major donors.

As president and CEO of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh from 1984 to 1992, Wilburn helped to facilitate the merger of the Buhl Science Center with the Carnegie Institute, leading to the construction of a new $40 million Carnegie Science Center along the banks of the Allegheny River. During this time, he also led the founding of the Andy Warhol Museum. In recognition of these accomplishments, he was selected as Pittsburgh's "Man of the Year" in 1991 by Vectors Pittsburgh, a community service organization that works to improve the quality of life in Pittsburgh by promoting leadership among community members.

Prior to the Carnegie Institute, Wilburn was a cabinet member for six years for Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh. He led the Office of Budget and Administration and later served as secretary of education, shepherding the implementation of the newly legislated State System of Higher Education.

Wilburn is a former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he successfully guided that institution through a period of significant labor strife. Before that, Wilburn held several positions at Chase Manhattan Bank, and he also worked in the Defense Department and the White House on policy development, most notably the legislation creating the all-volunteer armed forces.

Wilburn earned a bachelor's degree in economics and engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in economics and public affairs at Princeton University. 

Pictured above is Robert C. Wilburn, the new director of Heinz College in Washington, D.C.