CMU announces $80M gifts, building replacement

November 15, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University’s 10th president, Farnam Jahanian, announced two large donations to the university during his inauguration speech Friday.

Jahanian, a computer scientist, was appointed to the post in March and was formally installed as president Friday. He joined Carnegie Mellon in August 2014 as vice president for research and served as provost and chief academic officer from 2015-17.

The donations--a $30 million lead grant for a new engineering building and a $50 million scholarship endowment -- will serve all students, Jahanian said.

The $30 million lead grant from the Allegheny Foundation will be used to modernize the university’s Scaife Hall and to provide a new home for the mechanical engineering program, Jahanian said.

The grant is the largest in the history of the Allegheny Foundation, which was founded by Richard M. Scaife in 1953 and supports initiatives related to education, civic development and historic preservation. Scaife Hall is named after his father, Alan Scaife, a longtime benefactor of Carnegie Mellon.

The existing building on Frew Street, near Flagstaff Hill, will be demolished and replaced with a $75 million facility more than double the size, according to a statement from the university. It will include labs, flexible classrooms and collaborative spaces.

A separate $50 million scholarship commitment pledged by alumni Cindy and Tod Johnson, will fund scholarships for low- and middle-income students. The money also will be used to support programs that keep students from dropping out.

The Johnson Family Scholarship Endowment is the largest single gift for scholarship support in the university’s history, Jahanian said.

The university saw a 19 percent increase in applicants last year, Michael Steidel, dean of admission, said in a statement.

“But prospective students and their families tell us the number one obstacle is the cost of attendance,” Steidel said.

Undergraduate tuition for the 2018-19 academic year is $54,244. With fees, housing, dining and books, the overall cost of attendance comes out to at least $72,283, according to estimates posted to the university admissions website.

“This support will greatly expand our ability to ensure that a Carnegie Mellon education is within reach of all talented students,” Jahanian said. “This gift, the largest toward scholarship support in Carnegie Mellon’s history, was inspired by Tod’s own path to success here at CMU and the undergraduate scholarship that funded his education.”

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts management in 1966 and a master’s degree in industrial administration in 1967. He is now the executive chairman of The NPD Group Inc., a global market research firm. He is a member and vice chair of the university Board of Trustees and chaired the university Centennial Campaign.

Johnson was awarded the Tepper School of Business Lifetime Achievement Award and is the managing director of the Metropolitan Opera.

His wife, Cindy, earned a bachelor’s degree in art in 1968 and is co-chair of the board of directors for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in New York.

The couple met and married while they were students at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which became Carnegie Mellon University.

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