It's fitting that the installation of School of Computer Science Dean Martial Hebert would begin with a musical intro from Carnegie Mellon University's robot bagpiper, McBlare. After all, Hebert spent his career at the Robotics Institute until taking the helm of SCS this past August.
"When you hear bagpipes, you know something special is happening. When you hear bagpipes being played by a robot, you know you're at Carnegie Mellon University," Provost James H. Garrett Jr. said.
McBlare kicked off the Jan. 29 event that honored Hebert's appointment as the sixth dean of SCS and celebrated the school's rich tradition of excellence and leadership in all facets of computer science.
"Today, we officially recognize Martial as the dean of the School of Computer Science and commit our support to him as he advances the school's world-renowned educational, research and entrepreneurial mission and legacy," Garrett said.
A native of France, Hebert earned a doctorate in computer science at the University of Paris. He joined the Robotics Institute in 1984, just five years after it was founded, and was named a full professor in 1999. For more than three decades, he led major research programs in autonomous systems, including ground and air vehicles, with contributions in the areas of perception for environment understanding and human interaction.
"Martial has shown an unwavering commitment to excellence and a dedication to discovery, inclusion, collaboration and respect as the foundation of his leadership. His passion for SCS and for Carnegie Mellon is truly inspiring," CMU President Farnam Jahanian said. "With Martial as dean, I'm confident that SCS will continue to develop as the world-leader in computer science research and education, and deepen its connections with partners across campus and around the world.
CMU has long shaped the field of computer science, establishing the Computer Science Department in 1965 and founding the nation's first computer science college more than 30 years ago. It's consistently ranked number one by U.S. News & World Report, and is known for embracing a broad definition of computer science. The school is home to more than 270 faculty members and roughly 2,300 students.
After celebratory remarks from Garrett, Jahanian, FORE Systems Professor Lorrie Cranor and Assistant Professor of Robotics Henny Admoni, Hebert shared with his large audience the lessons he's learned at CMU and how they've influenced his vision for the future. He emphasized the importance of nurturing the school's unique range of research. Real progress, he added, only occurs through collaboration across all fields and disciplines.
Finally, he highlighted the important role diversity and inclusion must play in computer science moving forward.
"The future brings unlimited challenges that we can't imagine yet, but we can make sure we're well-positioned to meet them. We need to do this in a way that is inclusive and welcoming to all. This is the hardest part of what we need to do," Hebert said. "Being a first-gen college graduate — actually a first-gen high school graduate — gave me just a glimpse of how hurtful and damaging it can be to not feel welcomed. I am hopeful that, supported by the strong commitment of the university's diversity and inclusion efforts, we will make progress."
As part of the installation, Jahanian and Garrett presented Hebert with a quaich (pronounced "quake"), a Scottish drinking vessel traditionally used to offer guests a cup of friendship or welcome. Its two-handled design represents new adventures and mutual trust between the giver and the receiver.
Hebert greeted the event with his trademark humility.
"Although this event carries my name, this is not about me, but about the people of SCS — the faculty, the students and the staff. It is about carrying forward the school's rich history," he said.
Virginia Alvino Young | 412-268-8356 | firstname.lastname@example.org