CMU’s president is named to a prestigious list of successful immigrants

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Car­ne­gie Mel­lon Univer­sity pres­i­dent Subra Suresh joined an elite club this week.

He is one of 41 nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens the Car­ne­gie Cor­po­ra­tion of New York is hon­or­ing as “Great Im­mi­grants — the Pride of Amer­ica.” The char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion has put to­gether its list of high-achiev­ing im­mi­grants since 2006 and will fea­ture pho­tos and in­for­ma­tion on the re­cip­i­ents in to­day’s edi­tion of The New York Times.

Mr. Suresh, who was head of the Na­tional Science Foun­da­tion be­fore com­ing to CMU, is one of four peo­ple on this year’s list who were born in In­dia. The oth­ers are Satya Nadella, CEO of Mi­cro­soft Corp.; Aa­sif Mandvi, an ac­tor and co­me­dian known for his work on “The Daily Show”; and Be­heruz Sethna, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of West Geor­gia.

Pitts­bur­gher and Scot­tish im­mi­grant An­drew Car­ne­gie es­tab­lished the Car­ne­gie Cor­po­ra­tion in 1911 to pro­mote “the ad­vance­ment and dif­fu­sion of knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing.”

Mr. Suresh, who be­came CMU’‍s lat­est pres­i­dent last year, said Wed­nes­day that when he heard of his se­lec­tion to the Car­ne­gie im­mi­grants list, “I was cer­tainly sur­prised and a lit­tle bit hum­bled.”

“I think one of the most re­mark­able things about the U.S. is that there are very few coun­tries where you can come as a grad­u­ate stu­dent, can be­come a cit­i­zen, and you get the op­por­tu­nity for the pres­i­dent to nom­i­nate you to lead a ma­jor U.S. agency in Wash­ing­ton. That doesn’‍t hap­pen in very many places.”

Mr. Suresh came to the United States in 1977 as a mas­ter’‍s stu­dent in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at Iowa State Univer­sity and got his Ph.D. from the Mas­sa­chu­setts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy four years later.

He be­came a U.S. cit­i­zen in 1989, when he was a pro­fes­sor at Brown Univer­sity. “By the time I ap­plied for my cit­i­zen­ship, I was mar­ried, and my wife was Amer­i­can, and I was a full pro­fes­sor at Brown, and we had one child. It was pretty clear I was here for the long haul.”

Now head­ing a uni­ver­sity with a high per­cent­age of for­eign-born stu­dents, Mr. Suresh said the role of new­com­ers to Amer­ica’s shores is “noth­ing new for the U.S. It’‍s al­ways been a coun­try of im­mi­grants. One of the rea­sons it has been an in­no­va­tion leader is the fact you could at­tract tal­ent from all over the world to come here, and any coun­try that is ca­pa­ble of do­ing that is al­ways at the top of the in­no­va­tion pyr­a­mid.”

Other “great im­mi­grants” hon­ored this year in­clude au­thor An­dre Aci­man from Egypt and Italy, fash­ion de­signer Car­o­lina Her­rera from Ven­e­zu­ela, for­mer U.S. Sen. Ru­dolph Bosch­witz from Ger­many, ac­tors Daniel Dae Kim from South Korea (“Lost”) and Sara Ramirez from Mex­ico (“Grey’s Anat­omy”), mu­si­cian Dave Mat­thews from South Africa and Nobel Prize in med­i­cine re­cip­i­ent Roger Guil­le­min from France.

Mark Roth: mroth@post-ga­ or 412-263-1130. Twit­ter: @marko­mar.

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