Carnegie Mellon University has announced a $50 million commitment from alumni Cindy and Tod Johnson in support of scholarships and efforts to help students stay on the path to graduation.
The largest single gift for scholarships in the university's history will establish the Johnson Family Scholarship Endowment, which, when fully funded, will help meet the financial needs of future generations of CMU undergrads. The endowment also will provide flexible funding for efforts to address issues that can cause students to leave school before they complete their degrees.
Executive chair of the NPD Group, Inc., a global market-research firm, Tod Johnson is a longstanding member and vice chair of CMU's board of trustees and chaired the Centennial Campaign for Carnegie Mellon. The Johnsons met and married when they were students at what became CMU, with Tod earning a bachelor's degree in graphic arts management in 1966 and a master's degree in industrial administration in 1967 and Cindy earning a bachelor's degree in art in 1968. Their previous gifts to CMU have supported the Herbert A. Simon Professorship of Economics and Psychology, the recently completed first building on the Tepper Quadrangle, the Purnell Center for the Arts, and an endowment for the university's Fifth-Year Scholars Program.
"This is a gift that Cindy and I have always wanted to make," said Johnson. "I see the societal and social effects of student debt in the lives of recent graduates whom my company hires and through our company's research on consumer spending; it is becoming more apparent than ever before. Also, we have wanted to make this gift because it was the support of a fellowship I received that made it possible for us to be independent as CMU students."
"[P]rospective students and their families tell us the number-one obstacle is the cost of attendance," said CMU dean of admissions Michael Steidel. "Scholarship support like that made possible through the Johnsons' tremendous generosity gives us the tools to help more of these talented students say 'yes' to CMU, their top choice."