Subra Suresh, Carnegie Mellon University president, will resign as president of Carnegie Mellon University on June 30, making his tenure the shortest in the school’s 117-year history and placing it in uncharted waters as it seeks a new leader for the second time in less than five years.
In a letter to the CMU community, he wrote, “My wife Mary and I have reflected on the long-term commitment needed to implement the university’s strategic plan, and we feel Carnegie Mellon would be best served now by a president who is ready to make that extended commitment to generating resources and guiding the university toward reaching these objectives.” Suresh has been at CMU for four years.
His brief statement to campus made no reference to a new position. Officials said they had no information about that, nor could they elaborate on any separation agreement between Mr. Suresh and the University.
Suresh, the ninth president of the renowned university, succeeded former president Jared Cohon, who served for 16 years. Suresh reflected on his achievements during his four-year tenure, including greater access for academically under-served populations through the creation of Presidential Scholarships and Fellowships, which provide financial aid to undergraduates and graduate students.
He also noted the expansion of the campus, including three new buildings and a quadrangle. “I am proud to see the growing commitment to excellence across the university’s fields and endeavors, led by our outstanding faculty, staff and students, and our renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion,” wrote Suresh, adding: “Mary and I have immensely enjoyed the time we have spent with students at all stages in their CMU education, in a variety of venues. We commend you for your outstanding work, and wish you all the best as you pursue your careers and lives.”
“I knew long before I came here that Carnegie Mellon is a special place, and it has been an unforgettable experience for Mary and me to join this community and work with so many of you,” said the president, acknowledging staff, faculty, and alumni at the university.
Jim Rohr, chairman of the Board of Trustees at CMU, responded to Suresh’s letter, stating: “Subra’s vision has left an indelible mark on CMU, and he has assembled a strong and diverse leadership team that is well-positioned to build on the momentum at Carnegie Mellon.” An interim president will be appointed as the university searches for a new president, said Rohr.
Prior to joining CMU, Suresh served as the director of the National Science Foundation, a $7-billion independent government science agency charged with advancing science, engineering research and education. He helmed the organization for almost six years.
Suresh has a B. Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras, a master’s degree from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in science from MIT. After postdoctoral research at U.C.-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he joined the engineering faculty at Brown University. He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and headed MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
In 2011, Suresh was awarded the Padma Shri by India’s president. In April 2014, he received the Benjamin Franklin medal for his research work in mechanical engineering and materials science.