Richard P. Simmons, Pittsburgh civic leader and philanthropist, made a $7.5 million gift to Carnegie Mellon University to support the state-of-the-art auditorium housed inside the David A. Tepper Quadrangle.
The Simmons Auditorium is the largest auditorium space at Carnegie Mellon. It expands the university’s capacity to host major speakers and events, and is divisible to accommodate classes and other educational programs for the entire university.
Simmons received an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree from Carnegie Mellon in 2012. He also endowed a professorship at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, which is held by Nobel Prize winning economist Finn E. Kydland.
Simmons, chairman emeritus of Allegheny Technologies Inc., has enjoyed a career marked by decades of success in the turbulent steel industry. He joined Allegheny Ludlum in 1953, then left to assume management positions at Republic Steel Corp. and Latrobe Steel Co. He returned to Allegheny Ludlum in 1968 and moved steadily up the ranks to become company president. In 1980, Simmons led a group of other managers and investors in the purchase of Allegheny Ludlum. The company grew into one of the most successful specialty steel makers.
In 1996, Allegheny Ludlum and Teledyne Inc. combined to become Allegheny Technologies Inc. Simmons served as the new company’s chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer until his retirement in 2000. He also is a former director of Joy Manufacturing, US Airways Inc., PNC Bank Corp. and Consolidated Natural Gas Co. He also has been a strong backer of venture capital startups in western Pennsylvania.
In addition to his success as a leader, Simmons distinguished himself as an engineer. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1998 and received the Benjamin F. Fairless Award of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers in 1989. The Engineering Society of Western Pennsylvania has recognized Simmons with the William Metcalf Award for outstanding engineering achievement.