Carnegie Mellon University
May 18, 2022

Four Trustees Added to CMU Board

New members include Ansys CEO, Pittsburgh mayor, and two alumni

Peter Kerwin
  • University Communications & Marketing
The Carnegie Mellon University Board of Trustees elected one new member, Ansys Inc. President and CEO Ajei Gopal, and added three ex-officio members during its May 2022 meeting. Ed Gainey, mayor of Pittsburgh; alumna Brit McCandless Farmer, president-elect of the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association Board; and alumnus John Watts, incoming president of CMU's Andrew Carnegie Society, will serve in ex-officio roles.

"It's a tremendous joy to welcome this new group of Trustees to Carnegie Mellon," said David Coulter, chair of CMU's Board of Trustees. "They bring volumes of experience and dedication to our mission. I look forward to working together in support of the CMU community."

"I am thrilled by the addition of these new trustees to our Board of Trustees," said Carnegie Mellon President Farnam Jahanian. "I have had the opportunity to get to know them in recent years, and I look forward to relying on their counsel to help the university advance our mission in education, research and societal impact."

Ajei GopalAjei Gopal (right) has served as president and CEO of Ansys, Inc. since January 2017. A leader in engineering simulation software, Ansys has partnered with CMU to prepare the next generation of engineers and accelerate breakthroughs. In 2019, the organizations celebrated the grand opening of Ansys Hall, a 36,000-foot maker facility on the university's campus.

Gopal joined Ansys as an independent member of its Board of Directors in 2011 and was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2016. Founded in 1970, Ansys is headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, with a global network of over 4,900 employees.

Before joining Ansys as an executive, Gopal was an operating partner at Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on leveraged buyouts and growth capital investments. During this period, he also served as interim president and COO at Symantec Corporation, a provider of cybersecurity software and services.

A holder of 23 U.S. patents, Gopal earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University, as well as a Bachelor of Technology degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.

Brit McCandless FarmerBrit McCandless Farmer (left) is the president-elect of the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association Board and graduated from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2008. She is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning print, broadcast and digital news. As the digital producer for "60 Minutes" at CBS News, McCandless Farmer interviews, writes and produces online content to accompany the highest-rated news program in the country. Previously, she worked at the "CBS Weekend Evening News" and "CBS This Morning," where she produced interviews with presidential candidates, elected officials and business leaders.

Before joining CBS, she worked at CNN, where she was a member of a producing and reporting team that won a Peabody Award. While a student at Carnegie Mellon, McCandless Farmer received the Alumni Association Student Engagement Award, was named an Andrew Carnegie Scholar and was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ed GaineyEd Gainey (right) is the 61st and current mayor of Pittsburgh, assuming office on Jan. 3, 2022, after winning the general election with nearly 71 percent of votes cast. The first African American to be elected mayor of Pittsburgh, Gainey grew up in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of East Liberty and saw firsthand the economic hardships many families face in Pittsburgh. Raised by a single mother, he counted on the support of his extended family and community to build a pathway to high school and college. Inspired to do the same for others, he discovered in college that an effective government can be a powerful tool to fight injustice and uplift communities.

Previously, Gainey represented the 24th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He also served in the administrations of former Pittsburgh Mayors Luke Ravenstahl and Tom Murphy. He earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Morgan State University.

John WattsJohn Stuart Watts (left) is the incoming president of CMU's Andrew Carnegie Society and earned his master's degree and Ph.D. from the Tepper School of Business in 1985 and 1988. Watts is a business advisor with a specialty in applying rigorous analysis to advise senior executives in strategy, marketing, public affairs and crisis situations.

His advisory work has spanned public opinion research for Allstate, commercial customer relations for BP, post-secondary education issues for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and public affairs for the senior executives and Board of Transocean after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Prior to his consulting career, Watts was an academic researcher and teacher, with tenure-track positions in accounting and economics at University of Chicago and Purdue University.

Additionally, John has served as president of the American Statistical Association's Chicago Chapter, as board member and treasurer of nonprofit Metro Chicago Information Center, and as a member of Fermilab's Community Advisory Board.

The Board of Trustees for Carnegie Mellon has fiduciary responsibility for the university and provides guidance and support as CMU pursues its mission of education, research and transfer of knowledge to society. Members offer expertise in financial and regulatory matters, are leaders in their respective fields and reflect diversity and experience in all its dimensions. They also are tasked with recruiting, supporting and evaluating the president. Trustees are elected to five-year terms.

More on the Carnegie Mellon Board of Trustees can be found on the leadership website.