On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I write to share news of a unique philanthropic gift that will benefit our community.
The late Henry and Elsie Hillman were longtime benefactors of Carnegie Mellon University, and Henry especially cared passionately about CMU. Henry developed a vision that he could further support CMU by arranging for the Hillman family residence to be donated following his passing, to serve as a new residence for the presidents of CMU, and a venue to convene our community and host some of our most important events.
Henry and I first discussed his interest in giving the family residence to CMU a number of years ago. In deciding to make a gift of the property, Henry considered its suitability for hosting signature events, especially given its proximity to campus. True to his nature, he wanted to make sure that the gift of the residence would be made in collaboration with CMU, and indeed, the Board of Trustees agreed with Henry’s assessment of the benefit the residence will bring to the university. After his passing in 2017, CMU and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation initiated discussions regarding our acceptance of the residence, and I am pleased to report that the gift was completed with the recent transfer of the property.
The residence, located in the Morewood Heights neighborhood near campus, was built in 1915, and was the Hillmans’ home for more than 50 years. In addition to transferring the property, the Hillman Foundation has also made a very generous grant to fund the renovations needed to transform the building to suit the university’s current and future needs. The university’s existing presidential residence on Northumberland Street will be sold, with the proceeds added to the university’s endowment.
Henry was a nationally recognized businessman, and Elsie was a leader in U.S. and Pennsylvania politics. They served on the boards of many charitable organizations and had a tremendous impact on Pittsburgh and the region through their philanthropy. They knew that Pittsburgh is a special place, and wanted to help raise its profile. One of their most significant gifts created the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which the Hillman Foundation continues to support.
Here at Carnegie Mellon, the Hillmans’ philanthropy is felt across campus. They provided the lead gift for the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies, part of the Gates-Hillman complex. The Hillmans provided the initial funding for Traffic21, as well as BrainHub, now our Neuroscience Institute. They also established the Henry L. Hillman Endowed Fund for the President’s Chair, which allows CMU’s president to invest in emerging and critical areas. During their lifetimes, the university was proud to award them each an honorary degree for their contributions to the region.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, and our entire community, we thank longtime CMU Trustee Lea Hillman Simonds and the entire Hillman family for their support of CMU and this gift. We thank the trustees and staff of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, and its president, David Roger, for their efforts to make this gift a reality. And of course, we are grateful to Henry and Elsie Hillman for continuing to invest in the future of Carnegie Mellon and for trusting us with the legacy of their home.
Chair, CMU Board of Trustees