Farnam Jahanian Named President of Carnegie Mellon University

  • By Burcu Ozden
  • 13 March 2018

Farnam Jahanian, the nationally recognized computer scientist, successful entrepreneur, senior public servant and respected leader in higher education, has been appointed as the 10th president of Carnegie Mellon University. The appointment is effective immediately, with a formal inauguration scheduled for fall 2018.

Jahanian holds a master's degree and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Jahanian grew to become a noted scholar and academic leader during his 21 years at the University of Michigan, where he held the Edward S. Davidson Collegiate Professorship in the College of Engineering. He served as director of the Software Systems Laboratory from 1997 to 2000 and chair for Computer Science and Engineering during a period of rapid growth for the department, from 2007 to 2011. A widely published expert in cybersecurity and networks, Jahanian's scholarly work in distributed computing and network protocols and architectures ultimately transformed how cyber threats are addressed today.

Throughout his career, Jahanian has been an active practitioner and advocate for basic research as the foundation of an innovation ecosystem that addresses societal priorities and drives global competitiveness. Working with former graduate students from the University of Michigan, he founded Arbor Networks to commercialize highly scalable, service provider-class solutions for network security. Today, technology created by Arbor Networks has been widely implemented by hundreds of major companies and government organizations around the globe. In 2008, the research behind Arbor Networks was recognized with the ACM SIGCOMM Test of Time Award.

In 2011, Jahanian was approved to lead the National Science Foundation Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) in its mission to advance scientific discovery through its support of fundamental research and transformative cyber infrastructure. He oversaw presidential initiatives, such as the National Robotics Initiative and the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative, as well as championed the US Ignite and I-Corps public-private partnerships.

He has testified before Congress on a broad range of topics, including cybersecurity, next generation computing and "big data" analytics. He also served as co-chair of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, providing overall coordination for the R&D activities of 17 federal agencies.

That advocacy continued when he joined Carnegie Mellon in 2014, and has remained a focus for him in several roles at the university. He was appointed provost in 2015 following a national search. As chief academic officer, he had broad responsibility for leading the university's colleges, schools, institutes and campuses, in addition to significant responsibilities for long-range institutional and academic planning, including the university's budgeting, facilities and other critical functions. Jahanian was appointed interim president when Subra Suresh stepped down in 2017.

Jahanian guided the campus-wide dialogue that led to Strategic Plan 2025, and has since led efforts to implement the plan. He also has enhanced the competitiveness of CMU's research enterprise, diversifying sources of funding and growing stronger relationships with foundation and industry partners. During his tenure as provost, CMU launched several major interdisciplinary research centers, including the Risk and Regulatory Services Innovation Center Sponsored by PwC and Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute.

During his time as provost, CMU launched several educational innovations that better meet the needs of CMU students in the new economy, including first-of-its-kind behavioral economics programs and a new undergraduate computational biology major. To support these new curricula, Jahanian championed several critical investments in the university's academic infrastructure. In July 2017, he announced a $20 million initiative to renovate classroom and learning spaces, embracing the future of learning with inspiring, hands-on, collaborative and technology-driven environments.

He currently serves as chair of the National Research Council's Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), sits on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness, and is a trustee of the Dietrich Foundation. He also is a board member of the Computing Research Association (CRA), the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, among others.