UC renamed after Cohon
Carnegie Mellon University held the naming ceremony for the Jared L. Cohon University Center midday Friday in Kirr Commons of the University Center. The event was well-attended, with faculty, administrators, staff, and students standing to watch the ceremony.
Current university President Subra Suresh and members of the university’s board of trustees were all in attendance in the dedication to former university President and current university professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy Jared Cohon. The Soundbytes a capella group opened the ceremony and were followed by a brief bagpipe performance.
Dean of Student Affairs Gina Casalegno then took the stage, announcing “I couldn’t be more pleased to join in this celebration of Jared L. Cohon,” continuing, “I am so grateful that my first three years of deanship were under [Cohon]’s leadership.”
Casalegno called the University Center “a hub for student engagement” and “a place for our diverse community to gather and learn about self, each other, the world around us, and to gain new perspectives.” Casalegno explained how, during Cohon’s tenure as university President, the number of student organizations doubled from 140 to 280. She referred to the University Center as a place where students can “take refuge” from their stresses, often at the black chairs, which was the location for this event.
The announcement that the new University Center would be named after Cohon was made through a campus-wide email in March, which explained that the University Center will be expanded and renovated over the course of the next two years. The message explained, “In keeping with CMU’s tradition of naming buildings for past presidents, the University Center will be named in recognition of Dr. Cohon’s many contributions to the success of the university, its students, faculty, and staff during his 16 years as president,” adding, “As the center of campus life, the Cohon University Center will be an enduring and fitting tribute to Dr. Cohon’s extraordinary personal engagement with students and his leadership style that focused on bringing diverse groups of people together to create better outcomes for all.”
Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees James Rohr took the stage to share a story regarding the search for university president that resulted in Cohon’s selection. He joked that the university “needed to have a unique person as its leader, so it made sense to find a dean of forestry.” Rohr continued, explaining that Carnegie Mellon’s strengths in both the arts and sciences meant it needed a president who could address both these aspects of education.
University Provost and Executive Vice President Mark Kamlet spoke of the study done under former university President Richard Cyert for a committee on student life, which concluded that the state of student life was “rather devastating.”
It was this committee that spearheaded the construction of the University Center, which University Center administrator Stanley Krowitz said plays an extremely important role for the campus community. Krowitz concluded, “this will truly be everyone’s home away from home on campus.”
The event saw a series of speakers representing alumni, current students, and members of the administration. When President Suresh took the stage, he remarked, “It’s a great day for the Cohon family. It’s a great day for the university.”
During the conclusion of the ceremony, Cohon took to the stage to receive a plaque to be mounted on the University Center’s wall and a framed picture signed by the employees of the University Center. Cohon was then surprised as black drapes were lifted from the balcony walls to reveal his name mounted in letters on the University Center wall.
“This is kind of overwhelming,” Cohon said when he took the microphone, giving thanks for an “unbelievable honor.”
Cohon thanked the staff of the University Center, saying “thank you for letting me put my name on your building.”
“I can’t thank you enough for this incredible honor,” he concluded.