Gift Bolsters Impact of Carnegie Mellon's Task Force on Campus Climate

By Brian Thornton

A significant gift from alumna and trustee Jeanne Cunicelli is supporting initiatives that continue Carnegie Mellon’s work toward building a stronger community.

The Cunicelli Presidential Priorities Fund will support activities identified by the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate. In September 2018, President Farnam Jahanian charged the group with making specific short- and long-term recommendations on steps Carnegie Mellon can take to further support a climate that is more inclusive, equitable, respectful and understanding for faculty, students and staff across all of its campuses and locations. It will also evaluate the university’s mechanisms for responding to incidents that do not align with its values and standards.

“Jeanne’s gift is an exceptional commitment to advancing and sustaining our vision of a campus environment where all are empowered to do their best work,” said President Jahanian. “Her extraordinary generosity accelerates the activities of the task force and allows the CMU community to act on their recommendations for fully living up the values that serve as our foundation.”

The task force is composed of more than 30 faculty, staff and students from across Carnegie Mellon. Its co-chairs are David Danks, L.L. Thurstone Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and department head in philosophy; Jodi Forlizzi, professor and Geschke Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute; and Michelle Piekutowski, associate vice president and chief human resources officer.

Cunicelli, who graduated with a degree in psychology from what is now the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is executive vice president of UPMC Enterprises, where she oversees investments and commercialization activities in translational science. She previously worked as a venture capitalist in the Bay Area. Cunicelli joined CMU’s board of trustees in 2011.

“I’ve witnessed transformational innovation when a diverse community is empowered to speak, have their voices heard, and contribute equitably to a collective mission,” Cunicelli said.

“Carnegie Mellon is an extraordinary place. Together we will continue to build a respectful and inclusive community that benefits our university and the remarkable individuals who call it home.”

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