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Heinz College: 2019 Year in Review

Dearest Friends,

As 2019 comes to a close, it is the perfect time for all of us at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy to take stock of the incredible progress we’ve made and the impact we’ve had in the past year.

We started the year strong, with U.S. News and World Report ranking us as the #1 school in Information Technology Management for the 21st straight year. In February, we hosted ‘A Dedication to Shared Prosperity,’ a kickoff event for the Block Center for Technology and Society, a groundbreaking university-wide research center housed at Heinz College. The event convened experts for important discussions on AI, the future of work, trust and transparency in the use of autonomous systems, and collaborative work between humans and AI. We were joined at the event by the Block Center’s External Advisory Committee, an accomplished group of leaders from government, business, and academia. It was an inspiring start to a new chapter of research and innovation at Heinz College and at Carnegie Mellon University. Also, the Block Center launched a terrific podcast, Consequential, which I hope you’ll check out!

This year, Heinz College received its first Presidential Advisory Board (PAB) review since 2009. This was an extraordinary undertaking that required collaboration from across Heinz College. We worked with CMU President Farnam Jahanian, Provost Jim Garrett, and a board of distinguished leaders from peer institutions and prominent companies to conduct a detailed review of Heinz College’s impact and value to the university, and to society at large. I can say without exaggeration that this process was a resounding success—the board was extremely impressed by what we’ve accomplished and how we’ve grown. Also, the process challenged all of us to think big about where we’re headed.

On the education front, there is much to announce. We launched a new master’s degree in Health Care Analytics and Information Technology, which leverages the best of our two schools and is unlike any other academic program on the market. This degree mirrors our popular business analytics and policy analytics degrees—the demand for these programs continues to surge, and the quality of applicants is truly top notch. Emboldened by these successes, we expect to announce additional innovations in graduate education in the coming year.

This year also marked the start of an undergraduate collaboration with CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Students majoring in Information Systems will now have their bachelor’s degrees conferred by both colleges jointly. This venture into undergraduate education is a first for Heinz College, and opens up many possibilities for expansion in the years ahead.

We continue to grow our industry-leading executive education programs in information security, technology leadership, and organizational risk management. Each cohort attracts executives from top firms and government agencies, and that shows no signs of slowing down. We expect many exciting announcements in this area in 2020.

2019 was a big year for partnerships. We’ve teamed up with the Volcker Alliance to help establish their Government-to-University (G2U) Initiative, developing a robust talent pipeline from CMU into federal and state governments. The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, announced an historic partnership with CMU to study technology and its impact on workers. CMU also became a charter member of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), a collective of institutions advancing the field of public interest technology founded by New America, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Heinz College is leading all of these efforts for CMU, and we are eager to see what these partnerships will yield in the years to come.

This was also a year of shaping and influencing policy conversations at the highest levels. We were pleased to welcome Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, as our commencement speaker for the class of 2019. Former U.N. Ambassador Sarah Mendelson, head of Heinz College in D.C., led an event with the Brookings Institution on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and what they mean for U.S. Cities. Professor Dan Nagin hosted a U.S. Senate briefing on the problem of mass violence. Together, Sarah and Dan led a riveting panel for the U.S. Institute of Peace on the subject of fostering peaceful, just, and inclusive societies and strengthening fragile states. Professor Lee Branstetter met with the Congressional Robotics Caucus to discuss AI and education. We led several conversations with policymakers at the National Governors Association and the White House, and contributed to both passed and pending legislation concerning the likely disruptions caused by artificial intelligence. Most recently, we hosted a conference on foreign interference with the Atlantic Council, bringing together prominent technologists and foreign policy experts on this urgent issue.

Finally, I want to share some highlights from our world-class faculty, as 2019 has been a year full of recognition for their work. Professors Lee Branstetter, Alexandra Chouldechova, Brian Kovak, and Beibei Li all received significant support from the National Science Foundation. Professor Marty Gaynor was awarded the 25th National Institute of Health Care Management Research Award for a paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics; Professor Alessandro Acquisti delivered the keynote address for a conference of the European Commission on competition in the digital age; Professor Leman Akoglu was invited by the National Academy of Engineering to speak about anomaly detection, an important topic in machine learning; and Professor Brett Ashley Crawford delivered the keynote at the AI + ART symposium at the New York Live Arts Festival. Also, several faculty members received high honors, including Sarah Mendelson’s appointment to the U.N. Association’s Distinguished Advisory Council, Kristen Kurland being named one of the 23 most influential global women in GIS, and Denise Rousseau’s lifetime achievement award from the Society for Human Resource Management. Our faculty outdid themselves this year, as the distinctions listed here are only the tip of the iceberg.

There is so much to be excited about and thankful for as we reflect on the year—I am certain it was a year in which each of you made your own impact, and I hope to hear from you about it. We, at Heinz College, wish you a happy new year full of promise and good health.


Ramayya Krishnan
Dean, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy