Alumni Director's Message: Thoughts on Giving Back

In this edition, SCS alumnus and Associate Dean Philip Lehman offers a perspective on giving to Carnegie Mellon. --- Tina
In previous columns, we've described the "Gift of Time" given by alumni and friends of SCS who participate and volunteer for events, talks, advisory organizations and other initiatives. Quite a few alumni and friends "roll up their sleeves" to collaborate with the university on a broad range of activities and events. We've also described the importance of communication with Carnegie Mellon, and advocacy --- helping spread the word about the amazing things we do.

In addition, many of you (alumni and friends, organizations as well as individuals) support the university financially. We're very grateful for your help, and we have, from time to time, profiled some generous individuals in The Link.

What motivates us to "give back" in this way? There are as many answers as there are benefactors. Some donors are alumni who want to acknowledge the benefits they received here; others are friends who have come to know, admire and love Carnegie Mellon; still others are corporations and foundations who have seen the profound effect the university has on the world.

Some people support education and research, by funding fellowships and scholarships. Others support physical facilities (such as the new Gates and Hillman centers) or creative endeavors, student groups and various activities. Some target specialized funds such as the Dean's Innovation Fund, which invests in the future via new research; others offer unrestricted gifts. Some of us enjoy having donations acknowledged publicly, but others prefer to remain anonymous.

The only common theme is that we all want to help advance the great work that Carnegie Mellon continues to do, and the inherent satisfaction --- regardless of the size of the gift --- we receive in being collaborators in the university's mission.  In short --- to coin a phrase --- we all want to "inspire innovation," the theme of Carnegie Mellon's ongoing $1 billion development campaign!

We sincerely thank those of you who have given gifts of your time as well as financial gifts. And we welcome inquiries about ways in which your generosity makes a real difference to our faculty, students, and staff, who move us forward every day --- and whose hearts, like yours, are truly in the work!

Philip L. Lehman (CS'78, '84)
Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives
School of Computer Science

  • About the Photo: The 2009 SCS AlumniAward for Undergraduate Excellence was presented May 17 duringcommencement exercises in Pittsburgh to two of our newest graduates,Andrew Maas (CS'09) and Hatem Alismail (CS'09, Qatar). Boris Sofman(E'05, CS'05,'07), a member of the SCS alumni award committee, made thepresentation. Shown from left are Andrew, Boris and Hatem.

    Andrew'sthesis was entitled "Learning about Related Tasks with HierarchicalModels." His advisors were Andrew Bagnell (CS'01, '04), assistantresearch professor of robotics, and Charles Kemp, assistant professorof psychology. Hatem's thesis was entitled "Exploring Visual Odometryfor Mobile Robots." His advisor was Brett Browning, systems scientistin the Robotics Institute.

    Established in 2003, the SCS AlumniAward recognizes technical excellence in research and development by anundergraduate participating in the senior thesis program. The awardscommittee evaluates both the written thesis as well as an oral andposter presentation, judging each entry on factors such as originality,technical excellence, potential societal impact, accessibility andgeneral excitement level.
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