Carnegie Mellon University

Jan Hawkins

August 20, 2021

Get To Know our Jan Hawkins, Osher Board of Director’s President

By Mackenzie Carpenter

Jan Hawkins likens her 33-year career at Westinghouse “to a bit of a skipping rock” — not across a lake, but across a number of the company’s businesses in far flung locations, from South Carolina to Brussels.

Now, though, six years after her retirement, the Oakmont resident and mother of two plans to stay put — at least for a little while — as the new President of OSHER’s Lifelong Learning Institute at CMU.  She was appointed July 1st.

“I recognize that there’s a lot of change going on” as CMU/OSHER expands its footprint, shifting to three different venues instead of just one: besides the online classes that will continue to be offered, there will be new headquarters and classrooms at CMU’s Cyert Hall in Oakland and at the Eden Hall campus north of the city in a new partnership with Chatham University.

With the potential for an influx of new members beyond Pittsburgh, an expansion of the curriculum and an infusion of new study leaders is important — along with an updating of CMU/OSHER’s strategic plan.

“Now more than ever we need to think about what we want to become,” Jan says.

A native of Washington state and a self-described extrovert, Jan has always found it easy to get along with people, which is perhaps why Westinghouse always put her in charge of their Human Resources departments in eight moves over 14 years: from her first job at a government-owned, company operated facility in Hanford, Washington — part of the Manhattan Project — to postings in Hartford, CT and Manchester, England, among other places.

“I liked the diversity of the work, and building relationships,” she said, because “‘people resources make a business run.  And I don’t look for the negative, only the positive.”

Exhibit A:  When the pandemic first began, it was hard to get flour, “so I bought a flour mill and 75 pounds of grain so I could bake bread” and began sharing the results on a Zoom group of fellow bakers called “Floured Hands.”

One reason she was drawn to OSHER at CMU is because her son David received his undergraduate degree in finance from the university and his Executive MBA as well — partially sponsored, as it happens, by Westinghouse.  

During her time at CMU’s OSHER, she’s participated in Helen Faye Rosenblum’s popular study of short stories and taken several classes on memoir writing.  Given her travels — which she has no intention of stopping, she feels she has a lot to say.

A young great-niece said to her recently, “Aunt, Jan, I think you have lived eight lives.” Jan says that, while a cat’s lives may stop at nine, she hopes to have a few more lives left than that!