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Farnam Jahanian named president of Carnegie Mellon University

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, March 8, 2018, 8:36 a.m.
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University Provost Farnam Jahanian has been named interim president of the university on June 14, 2017.
Carnegie Mellon University Provost Farnam Jahanian has been named interim president of the university on June 14, 2017.
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, center, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, center, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, right, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, right, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, left, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018. He is pictured with daughter Sara, a CMU student, and wife Teresa.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian, left, as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018. He is pictured with daughter Sara, a CMU student, and wife Teresa.

Carnegie Mellon University removed the interim tag from Farnam Jahanian's job title in making him the 10th president in the university's history.

Carnegie Mellon's board of trustees approved Jahanian's appointment by a unanimous vote Wednesday. The university announced the move Thursday morning.

“A rigorous, international search has made it clear that Dr. Jahanian possesses a rare set of qualities and experiences that make him exactly the right leader for this university at this extraordinary moment in its history,” James E. Rohr, chairman of the board of trustees, said in a statement.

Rohr said Jahanian led Carnegie Mellon “with an irresistible urgency and determination” during his tenure as interim president, which began July 1.

Jahanian oversaw the launch of the PwC Risk and Regulatory Services Innovation Center; the Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute; and the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute.

Next year, the university will open the David A. Tepper Quadrangle, the new home for the Tepper School of Business and the Block Center for Technology and Society.

“As data and digital technology transform our world, Carnegie Mellon is positioned like no other institution to bring about world-leading breakthroughs in those realms, but also in the fields that help humanity benefit from this revolution, from policy to ethics, business to the arts and humanities,” Jahanian said in a statement. “There's no other place like this.”

Jahanian pledged $20 million in July to update classrooms and learning spaces and chaired the Task Force on the CMU Experience. During his time as interim president, Carnegie Mellon announced that women made up more than 50 percent of the university's incoming first-year students.

“Many of us that know Farnam are amazed at his empathetic approach to campus issues and his commitment to transparency. As a senior who is graduating soon, I leave with full confidence that Carnegie Mellon University will be in good hands,” Student Body President Neal Choudhary said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald described Jahanian as a leader.

“In addition to his energy and vision, his reputation for partnering with others to move our region forward will continue to serve Carnegie Mellon University well into the future,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

A nationally recognized computer scientist, Jahanian had spent 21 years at the University of Michigan before coming to Carnegie Mellon as vice president for research in 2014. He was named provost and chief academic officer the next year, and then became interim president after the sudden resignation of Subra Suresh .

“The trustees of Carnegie Mellon have made a wise decision in selecting Farnam Jahanian as president,” said Mary Sue Coleman, former president of the University of Michigan and the current president of the Association of American Universities. “He brings deep scholarly expertise, real world experience and federal government leadership, all qualities of which are ideal for a university with global reach.”

Jahanian has a cybersecurity background. He founded Arbor Networks, now a supplier of security technology to major companies and governments around the world.

Suresh abruptly stepped down after four years as CMU's president in mid-2017 to lead Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The university credited Suresh with developing a long-term strategic plan, creating a presidential fellowship and scholarship program and overseeing more than $500,000 worth of investment into expanding and improving campus facilities.

Jahanian is married to Teresa Jahanian, a computer scientist with patents for high-performance transaction processing. She is the honorary president of the Carnegie Mellon Women's Association. The couple has three children, Sara, a junior at Carnegie Mellon, and Thomas and Daniel, who live in Michigan. Penny, the couple's dog, is a regular at university events.

Jahanian's appointment is effective immediately, but he will have a formal inauguration in the fall, university officials said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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