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$15M donation establishes CMU's Block Center for Technology and Society

Aaron Aupperlee
| Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, 10:06 a.m.
Interim President Farnam Jahanian, Suzanne Kelley, Keith Block and Dean Ramayya Krishnan during Carnegie Mellon's 50th Anniversary event in San Francisco on Feb. 21. (Photo from Carnegie Mellon University)
Interim President Farnam Jahanian, Suzanne Kelley, Keith Block and Dean Ramayya Krishnan during Carnegie Mellon's 50th Anniversary event in San Francisco on Feb. 21. (Photo from Carnegie Mellon University)

A Carnegie Mellon University alum and his wife donated $15 million to the school to start a research center focused on examining the impact technology has on society.

The gift from Keith Block, president and chief operating officer of Salesforce, and Suzanne Kelley, a vice president at Oracle, will establish the Block Center for Technology and Society, CMU announced.

“Innovation delivers powerful advancements that will have a profound impact on everyone,” Block said in a statement. “CMU sits at the intersection of technology and policy — uniquely positioned to bring together the public and private sectors to make the world a better place.”

The Block Center will start with a look at the future of work, a hot question as concerns abound that artificial intelligence, robotics and automation will take people's jobs and leave many unemployed. The center will build on work in this area already in progress throughout the university. Researchers at the center will look for ways to make sure the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone.

“Foreseeing and addressing the challenges posed by the rapidly increasing role of technology in our lives is a critical focus of our work here at Carnegie Mellon,” interim university President Farnam Jahanian said in a statement. “We are thrilled that Keith and Suzanne have included CMU in their extraordinary generosity, supporting outstanding work on some of society's greatest challenges.”

The center will be in CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

Block is a member of the CMU Board of Trustees and the Heinz College Dean's Advisory Board. He graduated from CMU in 1984 with a master's degree in management and policy analysis and a bachelor's degree in information systems.

CMU announced the donation and center last week at an alumni event in San Francisco.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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