Out of habit and proximity, some Pittsburghers may still think of Carnegie Mellon University solely in terms of its handsome campus in Oakland, the full flowering of the seeds planted by industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1900. But, as the university is right to say, these days it is a global leader in research and ideas.
In addition to Pittsburgh, it has campuses in Qatar and Silicon Valley, California, and it offers degree programs to students in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Approximately 35 percent of Carnegie Mellon's students come from 115 nations outside the United States, marking the student body as one of the 10 most international among four-year U.S. institutions. While it ranks among America's best schools, it also competes as one of the best on the planet.
To serve its global ambitions it will soon have a president who originally came from the other side of the globe. On July 1, Subra Suresh will become the ninth president in the university's history, replacing Jared L. Cohon, whose great contributions over 16 years as president laid the foundation for further excellence and growth.
Mr. Suresh, 56, who came to this country from Mumbai, India, at the age of 21, is an engineer and scientist of superlative distinction. He has been director of the National Science Foundation since 2010, and President Barack Obama was moved to praise his work there in a statement. Although validation doesn't come much higher than that, his previous job was also at the highest level, as engineering dean at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where he earlier earned a doctor of science degree).
The search committee has chosen well in picking a successor to the distinguished Mr. Cohon. Not only will the new president be amply qualified, he also will be representative of many of the university's own students with their world-shaking ambitions. Surely Andrew Carnegie would have wished him well. He, too, was an immigrant who went on to do great things.