Carnegie Mellon University - History


Post-Civil War industrialists accumulated unprecedented wealth and some were eager to found institutions in their names as part of philanthropy campaigns using portions of their vast wealth. Washington Duke at Duke University, Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, Johns Hopkins at Johns Hopkins University, Leland Stanford at Stanford University, John D. Rockefeller at the University of Chicago, and Cornelius Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt University are several notable examples of Andrew Carnegie's gospel of wealth mentality and Carnegie Mellon University is one such result.

Carnegie Mellon predecessor institution, Carnegie Technical Schools, was founded in 1900 in Pittsburgh by the Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who wrote the time-honored words "My heart is in the work", when he donated the funds to create the institution. Carnegie's vision was to open a vocational training school for the sons and daughters of working-class Pittsburghers (Many of whom worked in his mills). The campus began to take shape in the Beaux-Arts architecture style of Henry Hornbostel, winner of the 1904 competition to design the original institution and later the founder of what is now the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture. The name was changed to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912, and the school began offering four-year degrees. In 1965, it merged with Andrew Mellon's Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, Carnegie founded Carnegie Mellon's coordinate women's college, Margaret Morrison Carnegie College in 1903 (which closed in 1973).

There was little change to the campus between the first and second World War. A 1938 master plan by Githens and Keally suggested acquisition of new land along Forbes Avenue, but the plan was not fully implemented. The period starting with the construction of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration building (1952) and ending with Wean Hall (1971) saw the institutional change from Carnegie Institute of Technology to Carnegie Mellon University. New facilities were needed to respond to the University's growing national reputation in artificial intelligence, business, robotics and the arts. In addition, an expanding student population resulted in a need for improved facilities for student life, athletics and libraries. The campus finally expanded to Forbes Avenue from its original land along Schenley Park. A ravine long known as "the cut" was gradually filled in to campus level, joining "the Mall" as a major campus open space.

The buildings of this era reflect current attitudes toward architectural style. The International Style, with its rejection of historical tradition and its emphases on functionalism and expression of structure, had been in vogue in urban settings since the 1930s. It came late to the Carnegie campus because of the hiatus in building activity and a general reluctance among all institutions of higher education to abandon historical styles. By the 1960s, it was seen as a way to accomplish the needed expansion and at the same time give the campus a new image. Each building was a unique architectural statement that may have acknowledged the existing campus in its placement, but not in its form or materials.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the tenure of University President Richard M. Cyert (1972–1990) witnessed a period of unparalleled growth and development. The research budget soared from roughly US$12 million annually in the early 1970s to more than US$110 million in the late 1980s. The work of researchers in new fields like robotics and software engineering helped the university build on its reputation for innovation and practical problem solving. President Cyert stressed strategic planning and comparative advantage, pursuing opportunities in areas where Carnegie Mellon could outdistance its competitors. One example of this approach was the introduction of the university's "Andrew" computing network in the mid-1980s. This pioneering project, which linked all computers and workstations on campus, set the standard for educational computing and established Carnegie Mellon as a leader in the use of technology in education and research. On April 24, 1984,, Carnegie Mellon's Internet domain became among the first six .edu URLs.

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