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8 1/2 x 11 Newsletter - May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011
Vol. 21, No. 43

In this issue:

Calendar Highlights

Picks of the Week:

  • Sunday, May 15: Commencement Ceremony. Guests are asked to be seated in Gesling Stadium by 10 a.m. Procession of graduates will begin at 10:15 a.m. The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to run through 12:30 p.m. Read more about commencement, including the best ways to get to campus in lieu of the Pittsburgh Marathon, later in this newsletter.
  • Tuesday, May 17: CMU Staff and Community Blood Drive. 8 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., Connan Room, UC. To schedule an appointment logon to and enter sponsor code CU040004, or contact John Papinchak at or 412-268-7404. All donors will be entered into a random raffle for Pirates tickets.
  • Wednesday, May 18: Annual Staff Picnic hosted by President Jared L. Cohon and Provost and Executive Vice President Mark Kamlet in recognition of staff contributions to the university. 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Wiegand Gym and Rangos Hall, UC. The event is free. Picnic-goers must present a valid Carnegie Mellon staff ID.  For information about shuttle transportation for off-campus staff, go to

Featured Events:

  • Through Saturday, May 14: School of Art’s Senior Art Exhibition. John Carson, head of the School of Art, says “this year’s graduating class reflects the variety of interests and particular talents of each individual in the program. The 2011 Senior Exhibition includes work that is weird, glamorous, poetic, delicate, provocative, cryptic, outrageous, beautiful, ingenious, contemplative and more.” Noon – 6 p.m., Regina Gouger Miller Gallery.
  • Friday-Saturday, May 13-14: Carnegie Mellon Bookstore Sidewalk Sale. Come early to get the best selection. Sale ends at 4 p.m. both days.
  • Friday, May 20:  Bike to Work Breakfast. 7:30 - 10 a.m., Merson Courtyard, UC.  In recognition of National Bike To Work Day, CMU’s Green Practices Committee will provide a healthy breakfast and Bike Pittsburgh will be on hand to distribute information about biking to work. CMU Police will be there to register bicycles. For more:
  • Through May 21: The Rumi Dialogue Club’s “Journey of Rumi Art Exhibition.” 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Chatham University Art Gallery. The collection illustrates selected verses from different works of Rumi, which are portrayals of various stages of man's evolution in his journey toward actualizing his Ultimate Self. Sponsored by Chatham University, Rumi Dialogue Club of CMU and Turkish Cultural Center Pittsburgh.
  • May 22-23: Disaster Management Initiative Workshop. This unique action-packed two-day event will explore disaster communications with 30+ emergency communications vehicles, hands-on experiments and demonstrations, and panels discussing what works and doesn't work in disasters. Silicon Valley campus.  More:

(If you have an event you’d like to publicize on the university’s online public event calendar, complete the event form at Your information will be sent to the Internal Communications team for posting on the calendar.)

Obituary: Lester Lave Was a Leading Environmental Economist

Lester LaveCarnegie Mellon Professor Lester B. Lave, one of the nation’s leading environmental economists, died at his home in Pittsburgh this past Monday (May 9) after a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 71.  Lave was a University Professor — the highest distinction a faculty member can achieve at Carnegie Mellon — the Harry B. and James H. Higgins Professor of Economics at the Tepper School of Business, professor of engineering and public policy, director of the Green Design Institute and co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. 
“Lester Lave was an icon at Carnegie Mellon, where he had achieved the highest plateaus in scholarship and friendship,” said Mark S. Kamlet, provost and executive vice president at Carnegie Mellon. “His work transcended many fields, most notably in areas of risk, the environment and economic decision making. The world has been changed by his work; a claim that not many can make. A multitude of friends worldwide are left behind but his work continues through these same colleagues and friends, as well as his former students.”

“Lester was a remarkable professor, researcher and colleague,” said Robert M. Dammon, dean of the Tepper School. “He was a beloved teacher and a prolific scholar, admired by his students, academic peers and policy-makers. He created a body of meaningful research, placing him among the world’s most respected thought-leaders on global energy issues and public policy.”

Lave first came to international prominence in the 1970s, when he used statistical methods to demonstrate that air pollution in American cities was causing a significant increase in death rates. While these results were vigorously contested by industry when they first appeared, the findings have been widely supported by subsequent research, and they served as a key early basis for EPA regulations to improve air quality. 


"127 Hours" Survivor, 8 Honorary Degree Recipients Featured at Commencement

Aron RalstonAron Ralston (E’97), whose incredible and heroic story of survival was the subject of the six-time Oscar-nominated film “127 Hours,” and eight honorary degree recipients will highlight CMU’s 114th Commencement, beginning at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 15 in Gesling Stadium, where more than 4,000 degrees will be conferred. 

The honorary degree recipients are: Craig R. Barrett, retired CEO and chairman of the board of the Intel Corporation; legendary Hollywood producer Steven Bochco (A’66); Chip Ganassi; owner of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Inc.; Richard (Rick) Rashid, senior vice president for Microsoft Research and former computer science professor at CMU; Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (CS’89,’90), clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Rafael Rangel Sostmann, president of the Tecnológico de Monterrey System; real estate developer Alia PoonawalaDavid S. Steiner (E’51), chairman of Steiner Equities Group, LLC; and Oliver Williamson (TPR’63), the Edgar F. Kaiser Professor Emeritus of Business, Economics and Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences.

This year’s student speaker is Alia Poonawala, a biological sciences and drama major. Her talk is titled “Cor Inquietum,” Latin for “restless heart.” Watch a video of Poonawala talk about CMU and how the university has helped her pursue her diverse interests at

Read more:

Pictured are keynote speaker Aron Ralston and student speaker Alia Poonawala.

Changes on Tap for This Year's Commencement Webcast

Carnegie Mellon’s webcast of commencement will be interactive this year with a “chat” functionality available through Facebook and Twitter. The new feature will allow friends and family members to comment and share stories while viewing the ceremony live, on the Web at, or via simulcast in the University Center’s McConomy Auditorium, Kirr Commons or on the lower level near FedEx/Kinkos.

Another difference in this year’s webcast is that contractual obligations prevent showing the keynote address by Aron Ralston (E’97). During his talk the webcast will feature the pre-ceremony presentation. The live feed of the ceremony will return immediately after his speech concludes. The on-campus simulcast will not be affected, and the entire ceremony will be shown as usual.

Brief highlights from Ralston’s address will be posted to CMU’s YouTube channel along with the speeches of President Jared L. Cohon and student speaker Alia Poonawala soon after the ceremony. You’ll find the speeches at

Parkway East's Squirrel Hill Exit, Boulevard of the Allies Are Best Bets To Get Here Commencement Sunday

If you’re working, participating in or attending commencement activities Sunday, May 15, getting to campus through Squirrel Hill, or through Schenley Park via the Boulevard of the Allies, are your best options considering the street closings for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, which is being held the same day.

Read more regarding street closings and directions at and

Virtual Possessions Have Powerful Hold on Teenagers, CMU Study Says

Virtual PossessionsDigital imagery, Facebook updates, online music collections, email threads and other immaterial artifacts of today's online world may be more precious to teenagers than a favorite book that a parent once read to them or a T-shirt worn at a music festival, Carnegie Mellon researchers say.

"A digital photo is valuable because it is a photo but also because it can be shared and people can comment on it," said John Zimmerman, associate professor of human-computer interaction and design. "For the young people in the CMU study, a digital photo that friends have tagged, linked and annotated is more meaningful than a photo in a frame or a drawer.”

Zimmerman, Jodi Forlizzi, associate professor of design and human-computer interaction, and William Odom, a Ph.D. student in HCII, presented their study of 21 teenagers this past Tuesday (May 10) at CHI 2011, the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver. CHI conference leaders awarded the study Best Paper recognition.


Women's Tennis Team Hosts NCAA Championship Play

NCAA Women's TennisCarnegie Mellon’s women’s tennis team (11-8), ranked 14th in NCAA Division III, will be hosting Elizabethtown College, Ithaca College, Mary Washington College, Moravian College, Washington and Lee University and Wilkes University this weekend in NCAA regional championship play, beginning today, Thursday, May 12. The Tartans, making their seventh straight post-season appearance and hosting an NCAA regional championship for the third time in the last four years, will play Elizabethtown in the opening round.  The Tartans, under Head Coach Andrew Girard, are led by All-University Athletic Association performers Laura Chen and Courtney Chin.

For the bracket pairings and more information, go to

$99 Finch Robot Engages Novice Computer Scientists

Finch RobotLearning how to program a computer to display the words “Hello World” once may have excited students, but that lesson doesn’t cut it in a world of videogames, smartphones and Twitter. One option to take its place is a Carnegie Mellon-developed robot called Finch. A product of CMU’s Robotics Institute, Finch was designed specifically to make introductory computer science classes an engaging experience.
A white plastic, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features, Finch can quickly be programmed by a novice to say “Hello, World,” do a little dance, or make its beak glow blue in response to cold temperatures. It includes a number of features that could keep students busy for a semester or more thinking up new things to do with it.
“Students are more interested and more motivated when they can work with something interactive and create programs that operate in the real world,” said Tom Lauwers, who earned his Ph.D. in robotics at CMU in 2010 and is now an instructor in the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab.

Lauwers created a startup company, BirdBrain Technologies, to produce Finch and sell them online at for $99 each.


High School Students Attend CMU's College Success 101

Carnegie Mellon’s Office of Undergraduate Admission and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh held College Success 101 yesterday (May 11), a one-day conference to help high school sophomores and juniors prepare for the college admission process.
College Success 101 provides students with information on the college search process, admission criteria, financial aid and scholarships, and more. This year, about 200 high school students and representatives from more than 30 colleges and universities were in attendance.
The conference was planned by a 15-member committee representing California University of Pennsylvania, Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon, Chatham University, Community College of Allegheny County, Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Promise Foundation, Point Park University and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

Planned Power Outages Scheduled for Friday- Saturday, May 20-21

Facilities Management Services and Campus Design and Facility Development are planning major power outages beginning at 3 p.m., Friday, May 20, to replace an electrical transformer and switch. 

Starting at 3 p.m., Friday, May 20, there will be no power to the GSIA Building, Posner Hall, Posner Center, Donner Hall and the Hill dormitories for approximately 18 hours. Roselawn Terrace, Spirit House, Tech House and the Woodlawn Apartments will have electric power. Full power will be restored by noon, Saturday, May 21.

Also, beginning at 3 p.m., Friday, May 20, there will be no power to the College of Fine Arts, Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall and Skibo Gym. Power will be restored by 7:30 a.m., Saturday, May 21.

Starting at 6 p.m., Friday, May 20, there will be no power to Hunt Library until noon on Saturday, May 21.

Questions should be directed to Kyle Tomer at 412-268-6332 or

News Briefs

  • Tomorrow's paper biweekly paychecks will be the last ones distributed at Cash Operations. Effective May 16, paper employee paychecks will only be available for pick-up from the lobby of the UTDC building (4516 Henry Street) between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Checks can only be picked up by the employee with proper ID. Unclaimed checks will no longer be mailed, but will be held at the UTDC until they are claimed. Currently, less than 250 employees receive paper paychecks. Payroll Services encourages employees to consider changing to direct deposit for their payroll checks. Information about direct deposit and the direct deposit form ( are available on the Direct Deposit page ( of the Payroll website. The other payment option available to employees is signing up for a pay card. With this option, your net paycheck is loaded on your pay card and the funds are available for use. Contact the Payroll Office at 412-268-2097 if you have questions or concerns.
  • The Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab, which recently unveiled its GigaPan Time Machine for exploring high-resolution videos, is the winner in the media category of the 2011 Data Hero Awards. The awards, announced May 9, were created this year by EMC Corp. to honor innovative uses of Big Data to profoundly impact individuals, organizations, industries and the world. The CREATE Lab is directed by Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics. Among its varied projects is GigaPan, a system developed with NASA to create and share gigapixel panoramas. More:
  • The University Libraries would like your feedback through an online survey at Your answers will help the libraries understand your preference for the hours and type of service and to shape services for the fall semester. All responses will be kept confidential. Only aggregate results will be shared internally.
  • The University's Healthy Campus initiative has launched a new website at The site is a one-stop shop for the many health and wellness resources available at CMU. Categories on the site include preventive health care, mental health care, fitness & exercise, food & nutrition, tobacco-free living and safety & security. 
  • Registration is now open for Learning & Development’s summer session. Sessions include: Professional Writing Skills; Four Generations in the Workplace; Communicating via the Web; Fostering a Culture of Engagement; Disability Etiquette: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask; and Retweets, Hashtags and Mentions: Using Twitter to Communicate. Register online at
  • Beginning Monday, May 16, CMU Postal Services will permanently change their retail window hours to 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. The student package pickup window hours will remain unchanged from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. when regular semester classes are in session. When regular semester classes are not in session, the student package pickup window is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and is closed on Saturdays.
  • Staff Council has arranged for members of the CMU community to purchase discounted tickets for Cirque du Soleil's latest touring production, TOTEM. Students, faculty and staff can receive 15 percent off select performances. Starting today, Thursday, May 12, TOTEM will perform for a limited engagement under the trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) in the Strip District (20th Street & A.V.R.R.). For more information and to order tickets, go to and enter promo code CMU.
  • CMU faculty and staff are invited to Teacher Appreciation Day at Costco, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22. Join Costco as an Executive Member and receive a $20 Costco Cash Card. Those joining at other membership levels will receive a $10 Costco Cash Card. The offer is only valid for new members.
  • This summer, CMU will again play host to Camp Spirit of the Game, Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Frisbee camp for kids. Professionally run by Philosophy Department teaching instructor Andy Norman, Camp Spirit features an introduction to the sport, a fun assortment of swimming and games, and lessons in constructive conflict resolution. The camp is for boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14. Sessions run from June 27 - July 1 and July 4 – 8. To sign up or to learn more go to or call 412-242-7117.

Personal Mention

  • Oxford University Press recently published “Organizational Learning Contracts” by Paul S. Goodman, the Richard M. Cyert Professor of Organizational Psychology at the Tepper School of Business. Goodman’s book examines how different forms of learning contracts impact student attitudes, learning and institutional identification in new and traditional institutions of higher education.
  • Engineering and public policy doctoral student Paul van der Boor and sophomore economics and statistics major Tori Baggio, members of Project Yele, will compete for more than $100,000 in seed funding in the final round of the Dell Social Innovation Competition from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, May 16 at the University of Texas at Austin. The competition will be streamed live at Project Yele is one of five finalists from more than 1,400 entries submitted by college students in 85 countries. The project aims to open a community bazaar that uses a refurbished hydropower plant to provide space for 16 shop owners. The bazaar also will include access to refrigerators and clean drinking water, an area to buy and charge LED lights, and Internet access.
  • Jiashun Jin, associate professor of statistics, has received a fellowship with the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS). IMS selects fellows to honor outstanding research and personal contributions that keep IMS in a leading role in the field of statistics and probability. Jin’s current research is in large-scale inference and massive-data analysis, which are frequently found in many scientific areas, such as genomics, astronomy, functional magnetic resonance imaging and image processing.
  • “A MAZE,” a play written by Rob Handel, head of the Dramatic Writing program, will be produced this summer (July 20-31) at the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Tony Award nominee Sam Buntrock will direct the performance. This past fall, Handel received the Whitfield Cook Award from New Dramatists for “A MAZE,” which tells three interconnected stories: a teenage girl recreates her identity after being held captive in a suburban basement for eight years; a band remakes itself after a hit-song; and a self-taught artist gains a cult following for his 15,000-page comic book.
  • Janet Madelle Feindel (MFA’02) associate professor in the School of Drama, is presenting a workshop on Voice/Alexander at the Care of the Professional Voice Symposium in Philadelphia and giving classes to conference presenters June 1-5. Marya Spring Cordes, who earned her master’s degree in directing from the School of Drama in 2010, will be assisting Feindel.
  • Robert Page, the Paul Mellon University Professor of Music and director of Choral Studies, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., during its commencement ceremony Friday, May 13. 
  • Courtney Wittekind, a sophomore in the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts Program, has been awarded a Boren Scholarship to fund her project working with Burmese refugees along the Thailand border this summer and fall semesters. Wittekind’s project, “Minority Children and the Effects of Forced Migration on Cultural Understanding and Identity,” will involve both her art and anthropology concentrations, as she’ll be using participatory art and photography techniques to enhance the anthropological framework she’ll be working within. The Boren Scholarship is sponsored by the National Security Education Program. More:
  • Michael Witmore, a former associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon, has been named director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Witmore, who will assume the post July 1, will be the sixth director in the library’s 79-year history. Witmore is a scholar of Shakespeare and early modern literature as well as a pioneer in the digital analysis of Shakespeare’s texts.


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