Carnegie Mellon University

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March 17, 2016

Personal Mention

Mike SteidelGreg EdelmanMichael Steidel (left), a 1978 CMU graduate and director of Admission for more than 35 years, has been promoted to Dean of Admission. “This new role will allow Mike to focus on setting the strategic direction of our undergraduate admission function, including the financial aid policies that will help us attract and admit a diverse freshman class of the highest quality,” said Provost Farnam Jahanian, who praised Steidel’s achievements. “Under his leadership, CMU has seen a meteoric rise in applications. In fact, we received more than 37,000 applications this past year, representing an 84 percent increase from 2006 numbers,” Jahanian said. Greg Edleman (right), previously senior associate director of Admission, will succeed Steidel as director of Admission. Edleman, a 2001 graduate of St. Vincent College, joined the Office of Admission in 2002. He will earn his master’s degree in public management from the Heinz College this May.

Shernell SmithM. Shernell Smith, assistant director in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, was honored by the New Pittsburgh Courier as a member of its FAB40, a group of 40 African-American men and women under the age of 40 who are helping to change the Pittsburgh community for the better. “Their actions and example are a clear signal to the Western Pennsylvania region there is a cadre of committed young adults who have demonstrated the ability, determination, focus and fortitude to tackle the challenges that lie ahead,” said Rod Doss, editor and publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier. Smith was honored at a reception last Thursday (March 10) at the Fairmont Pittsburgh.

Richard PurcellAcademics, journalists and pundits have long mined President Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” for information that would point to his political beliefs, but few analyses have approached the book as a literary work — until now. In “Barack Obama’s Literary Legacy: Readings of ‘Dreams from My Father,’” Associate Professor of English Richard Purcell and co-editor Henry Veggian have collected a group of essays that highlight Obama’s literary influences and merits as a writer. In the memoir, Obama refers to significant works like Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” as well as writers including James Baldwin and Dante. “It’s an incredible piece of writing that illuminates how literary-minded he was as a writer,” Purcell said. The anthology was published by Palgrave Macmillan, which released Purcell’s “Race, Ralph Ellison and American Cold War Intellectual Culture” in 2013. Learn more.

Di XiaoAssistant Professor of Physics Di Xiao has been named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar. Twenty-four of the nation's top early career scientists received the designation from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RSCA). Each will receive $100,000 to fund their research and teaching. Xiao will use the support from the scholar program to further his theoretical physics research on the topological excitonic effects in gapped Dirac materials. Dirac materials have a unique band structure that sets them apart from other semiconductors, and makes them a promising candidate for the next generation of quantum optoelectronics. Xiao plans to study how the arrangement of the material’s band impacts the formation and dynamics of excitons. Find out more.

James WynnAssociate Professor of English and Rhetoric James Wynn was among the distinguished scholars who gathered for a symposium at the University of Nevada, Reno, exploring the role of rhetoric in the debate over climate change. In a talk based on his forthcoming book, “Citizen Science in the Digital Age,” Wynn asked whether citizen science can unite groups with differing opinions and help them develop mutual understandings of important issues, including climate change. “Unless the media cover citizen science projects in some balanced way, these initiatives won’t make the impact we want them to have,” Wynn said. Read more about the symposium. 

Gary AldrichHead Track & Field Coach Gary Aldrich has been selected as the USA Men's Throws Coach for the 2016 World Indoor Championships. The event will take place in Portland, Ore., March 17-20. This marks Aldrich's fourth coaching stint on the international stage. "The opportunities to be on staff for Team USA, to meet, work with and be around the best athletes in the world competing and training at the highest level have and will continue to help me develop as a coach. This experience and time being part of this team will allow me to share and continue the growth of the Tartan track and field program. I hope I serve as an example for our current and future student-athletes that you can obtain your goals and be honored while at Carnegie Mellon University." Find out more.

Melanie DiazMelanie Diaz, a junior English and global studies major, has been awarded a Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) fellowship for 2016. The fellowship program is designed to help students from diverse backgrounds attend graduate school, typically in the areas of public policy, public administration, international affairs and related fields. As part of the fellowship, Diaz will attend an intensive, seven-week Junior Summer Institute (JSI) at the Heinz College this June. The institutes provide students with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed while pursuing a master’s degree and working to serve the public good. “What makes Melanie such a great candidate for the PPIA is that she has the heart and the head to make a difference in education,” said Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education. Find out more.

Sean O’Leary, manager of the Carnegie Mellon Federal Credit Union (CMUFCU) for the last 19 years, will be leaving the Credit Union to take the post of CEO at PPG & Associates FCU. His new duties will begin mid- to late-April. O’Leary ably steered the CMUFCU through a series of challenges stemming from the national subprime mortgage and stock market crises and the introduction of new rules and regulations governing financial institutions. “Sean was the right leader to address and weather those disruptions,” said Erika Linke, associate dean of University Libraries and credit union board member. “The board will sorely miss his sound advice, astute counsel and his deep commitment to the credit union and its members.” Roberta “Bert” Kenchel has been named interim manager of the credit union. “We are fortunate to have Bert’s experience. She brings many years of credit union experience to the position and is looking forward to this opportunity,” Linke said.