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Jahanian, Casalegno host town hall on university's "strategic plan"

Carnegie Mellon President Farnam Jahanian and Dean of Students Gina Casalegno, in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon Student Senate, hosted their annual town hall to discuss the “strategic plan” for the direction of the university and field questions from students.

President Jahanian’s plan has four tenets: bringing and retaining outstanding and diverse talent, enhancing the Carnegie Mellon experience, expanding innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and building excellence across the university.

President Jahanian noted that there has been an increase in applications to the university over the last few years. He highlighted that half of the Class of 2023+ were women and that 17 percent of the class were international students.

He stressed the importance of diversity and briefly discussed a new program designed to provide more support for students from underrepresented minorities on campus. In a follow-up comment to The Tartan, he expressed that creating support systems for underrepresented minority students remains “an institutional priority.”

President Jahanian and Dean Casalegno expanded upon the plans for enhancing the university experience in great detail. They highlighted the new wellness center being created, the efforts of the Task Force on the Carnegie Mellon Experience and the Task Force on Campus Climate over the last few years, and increasing sexual assault bystander training. In further comments, Dean Casalegno acknowledged the issue of low rates of reporting sexual assault and stated that efforts were being undertaken to create a more comfortable climate for victims to report sexual assault.

President Jahanian quickly touched upon the third and fourth tenets of his plan. For the third tenet, he showcased the growing number of interdisciplinary majors and the expansion of state-of-the-art facilities. For the fourth tenet, he briefly gave more insight into the Make Possible fundraising campaign, which has already reached 50 percent of its $2 billion goal.

In a Q&A after the presentation, President Jahanian elaborated on Carnegie Mellon’s decision to invite Palantir, a software company that has drawn controversy for providing technology to ICE, to campus, and the future of liberal and visual arts at the university.

President Jahanian doubled down on the university’s stance following the Palantir protests: “If legitimate companies that are out there that want to come and recruit our students, we leave it up to our students to decide whether they want to work for those companies or not.”

As for the future of liberal and visual arts, President Jahanian stressed the importance of students having an interdisciplinary background, whether it is, as he said, STEM students being good writers or liberal arts students being able to analyze data.

“The future of education is going to be people who can cut across disciplines and who can connect with other disciplines,” he said.