Carnegie Mellon was founded as the Carnegie Technical School by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1900. In 1967 it merged with the Mellon Institute to become Carnegie Mellon University. A self-educated entrepreneur and industrialist, Andrew Carnegie once of the need for a technical institute in Pittsburgh, “my heart is in the work,” which became part of the school’s seal in 1912.
In the 1970s and 1980s CMU underwent massive changes. Its budget expanded from $12 million annually to more than $110 million by the late 1980s. Emphasis on research in emerging fields such as robotics and software engineering (two of its most prominent fields of study today) helped boost its academic standing and reputation as an innovative institution.
The university’s “Andrew” computing network, which links all computers and workstations on campus was a step forward in educational computing and set the bar for other universities to follow suit.
Today Carnegie Mellon continues to expand its facilities. The Gates Center for Computer Science, named after Microsoft founder Bill Gates for his $20 million gift, is currently under construction.
Carnegie Mellon has a stately campus with an eclectic group of buildings, ranging from large and concrete to classic to modern. All are impressive in their own right. The College of Fine Arts building is massive, with stone carvings on the exterior wall, murals on the ceiling and paintings and sculptures of musicians and playwrights throughout. The building is used for teaching as well as musical performances.
At the center of campus is The Mall, a grassy area used for events throughout the year such as orientation, concerts, and convocation and commencement ceremonies. The Mall provides views of many of the campus’s classic buildings such as Doherty Hall, Baker Hall, and Porter Hall, among others.
CMU’s main lawn is The Cut, named as such because it used to be a deep ravine that was subsequently filled with dirt. Today it is a park-like area where students can relax or play. Paths around The Cut lead to the Purnell Center for the Arts, the university’s new Drama School, as well as take you to the University Center, the campus’s student union.
The UC is a popular on-campus spot. There’s a large open room where students can meet, plus eateries, basketball courts, racquetball courts and a swimming pool. Architecturally the building is meant to function as its own urban community, with its hallways serving as pedestrian streets, a public square serving as the commons, and an urban, utilitarian aesthetic.
Many buildings such as the Roberts Engineering Hall, Wean Hall, and Warner Hall are mostly concrete with metal and glass sections that offset theseverity of the concrete.
Carnegie Mellon is located between Oakland and Shadyside in Pennsylvania. The largest nearby city is Pittsburgh. Oakland is still primarily a college town, with the University of Pittsburgh and CMU students living in the area. Shadyside is more residential but still has bars and shops that students frequent. A 21 and over destination of choice is the Panther Hollow Inn or PHI bar, about a block away from main campus. Students flock there for the cheap food and drinks.
Essentially in CMU’s backyard is Scheneley Park, a 500-acre rolling hillside that shows free movies and concerts during the summer. Students frequent the park for hiking, biking, or just to get away from the buzz of college life.
Cultural institutions such as the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are also in very close proximity to campus. These four museums feature art of all kinds, from prehistoric remains to Warhol paintings. Students also go to Pittsburgh for professional sports games, concerts at the Post-Gazette Pavilion, and the South Side area where they can go to shops, bars, clubs or smoke shisha at HKAN, a hookah bar founded and managed by CMU alums.
There is no shortage of traditions, both school-sponsored and otherwise, at CMU. Some students go as far as to say the quirks of CMU are special and fun enough to balance the rigorous schoolwork. CMU’s oldest tradition is Spring Carnival, a weekend of community, entertainment, food, and fun. Organizations set up themed booths with games for families and kids. The highlight of Carnival is Buggy Sweepstakes. Throughout the year student groups work on aerodynamic cylinders, similar to boxcars, for the 4,400 feet race. Each group finds the smallest girl to be the driver/passenger and gives her several pushes throughout the course.
The Fence is a CMU landmark that serves as the university’s giant billboard of sorts. It runs along the Cut, between Forbes Avenue and Hunt Library. Following tradition, a person or group can paint the Fence whenever they want. Once it's painted, if you don't want anyone else to paint over it, you have to stay by the Fence at all times (literally camp out). If you're guarding the Fence (at least one person, but often it's a group with a tent and sometimes a boom box for entertainment/music), no one can paint over it. If it's left unguarded, it’s open to anyone else to paint it. If it's a busy time of the year, like "Carnival" or rush, guarding the Fence is crucial, because every group wants to advertise on this prime piece of real estate. But if you know that nothing much is going on, you can leave it and hope that no one will paint over it....when this happens, the same message may be seen for days, if not weeks.”
For drama students, or dramats, it is tradition to autograph the walls of the Green Room in Kresge Theatre. It used to be that seniors only signed it but Holly Hunter broke this tradition by signing it her freshman year.
Ten Danson (1972) is an actor best known for his role as Sam on the TV show Cheers.
Holly Hunter (1980) is an Academy Award-, Emmy Award-, and Golden Globe Award-winning actress.
John Nash (1948) is an American mathematician who works on game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations. Nash received the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and may also be known as the subject of the film A Beautiful Mind.
Clifford Shill (1937) won the 1994 Nobel Prize winner in Physics.
Andy Warhol (1949) was an American painter and major figure in pop art movement.
Carnegie Mellon’s Tartans compete at the Division III level and are members of the University Athletic Association, UAA. In 2006 the football team was offered a bid to the NCAA playoffs and became one of the first teams in school history to win an NCAA playoff game, defeating Millsaps College, 21-0.
Men’s cross country has finished in the top 15 for the past three years in a row. Men’s track and field is also strong and both teams claim All-American runners. On June 23rd runner Brian Harvey was honored as Academic All-American for the second year in a row. In May, Coach Aldrich was named Mideast Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
CMU’s other varsity sports teams include men’s basketball, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, track and field, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and volleyball. Club sports teams include Crew, Ultimate Frisbee, Baseball, Volleyball, Lacrosse, Ice Hockey, Field Hockey, Fencing, Softball, Water Polo, Badminton, Explorers, Racquetball, Soccer, Tennis, Rugby, Grappling, and Cycling.
The campus has been featured in several movies such as Wonder Boys, Dogma, Flashdance, and Smart People.
Carnegie Mellon’s 2008 Commencement speaker was Vice President Al Gore.
During WWI 16 buildings were temporarily put up on campus that served as barracks, training facilities, and mess halls for soldiers doing technical, engineering, and mechanical work.
In 1949 there was only one male member of the “Modern Dance Club,” Andrew Warhola, better known as Andy Warhol.
First-year students at Carnegie Mellon are required to live on campus. Housing is guaranteed for all four years, and many students choose to stay on campus throughout their time at the school.
There are 20 to 30 different dorms on campus. Most are small and house only a handful of students. There are a few main dorms, however, and they are where most of the students who live on campus reside.
New House is a major dorm and is also the nicest: it is very close to campus and every room is newly carpeted with individual temperature control. New House’s amenities also include workout facilities, ping-pong tables, pool tables, and more within the dorm. Bathrooms are communal but are cleaned on a regular basis. The RA’s don’t allow much to go on in these dorms; partying is kept to a minimum, as is the case for most university housing. The next big dorm is Morewood Gardens, where many first years reside. Its proximity to campus is convenient and there is a dining hall directly underneath (the Underground).
Students say West Wing is the nicest in on-campus living at CMU. Designated mostly for upperclassmen, each room has its own bathroom and small kitchen which is a great arrangement for htose who want to stay on campus while becoming a bit more independent. The residence also has a computer cluster on the ground floor, so printing assignments and the like is very easy. Many students invite friends over and socialize in their room, all the while keeping in mind their RA is just down the hall.