CMU Athletics Receives Leadership Commitment to Establish DEI Endowed Fund
(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – Carnegie Mellon has received a $1.25 million commitment to establish an endowed fund supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within the athletics department. The gift, which is from an anonymous donor, was made in honor of former head football coach Rich Lackner.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the establishment of this fund, and the opportunity it will provide for our program,” said Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Josh Centor. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is a core priority for the university and athletics department, and this gift will ensure we have significant resources to impact our strategic ambitions in this critical area.”
The endowed fund has already been utilized to positively impact the athletics department’s goal of recruiting and retaining diverse talent to university. Two new full-time positions have been established as a result of the resources provided by the endowed fund, one of which is also supported by the NCAA Ethic Minorities and Women’s Internship Grant.
In addition to enhanced staffing opportunities, future resources deriving from the endowed fund will be utilized to support diversity programming for intercollegiate student-athletes, as well as provide targeted recruiting dollars to be utilized specifically for identifying and recruiting diverse student-athlete talent to Carnegie Mellon and its athletics program.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are necessary for learning environments, and we are committed to providing the best possible educational experience for our student-athletes,” Centor said. “We are excited to be taking meaningful strides forward. Our ambition is for the athletics program to model the way at our university, and nationally, about what it means to provide equitable access and opportunity.”
In 2021, Carnegie Mellon Athletics embarked on a strategic planning focus for its DEI efforts. The department aims to foster a diverse and inclusive environment where the unique talents, ideas and cultural fingerprints of each student, faculty and staff member showcase how diversity and inclusion are critical to excellence and innovation. The department aspires to promote social transformation and general sense of belonging for all community members and to be recognized nationally for achievements in areas of leadership, competitiveness and student-athlete experience.
In March, Carnegie Mellon promoted Monica Harrison to a newly-established role as Assistant Director of Athletics for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Harrison also serves as the NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Designee and led the department’s effort to establish the DEI strategic plan. She also helped the department establish best practices across its programs for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Our department has always been a place where we seek to highlight the best in those around us. I am proud of the work we have done to name inclusive excellence as a core value of the department and work strategically to embed this concept into the daily fiber of operations and interactions,” Harrison said. “These gifts help amplify and expand the meaningful work we have been doing.”
In addition to the lead gift to establish the DEI endowment, an additional alumnus recently made a significant gift to support the purpose of the fund. Others who would like to contribute to the fund, or discuss establishment of a different fund, can contact Senior Director of Development Sarah Mier or make a gift on the website.