January 2012 Issue
Issue Home | Inbox | > Inbox


William S. Dietrich II, 1938-2011
Members of the University Community:

It is with deep sadness that I’m writing to tell you that longtime trustee and university benefactor Bill Dietrich passed on October 6, 2011. He was 73.

Bill was a great friend of Carnegie Mellon University. As you know, just one month before his passing, we announced and celebrated Bill’s remarkable and historic gift to Carnegie Mellon, the largest in our history. An immediate impact of Bill’s gift was the naming of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences in honor of his mother, Marianna Brown Dietrich. His gift will benefit and forever change the entire university.

Bill also was a great friend of Pittsburgh. Like our founder, Andrew Carnegie, and the Mellons, he was a prominent Pittsburgh entrepreneur and philanthropist. Bill’s business acumen brought him great success in leading his family’s company, Dietrich Industries, to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of light metal framing for the construction industry.

Bill’s dedication to Carnegie Mellon was unwavering, as was his commitment to Pittsburgh. In addition to his service on our board, he served on the boards of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the UPMC Health System, and the University of Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon will be forever grateful to Bill for his service and philanthropy. We have lost a great friend. May he rest in peace.
Jared L. Cohon, President
   Carnegie Mellon University

Editor’s note: Dr. Cohon sent this note to the university community upon William Dietrich’s passing.

All of us, when we think about investment, we think about a building or a piece of equipment or some new technology, and that’s the definition of investment. But Bill realized our greatest investments are made in people, in training our people—and, in fact, education is the single best investment you can make.
James Rohr (Trustee)
    Chair and CEO,
    PNC Financial Services Group

I remember in the 2008 financial panic, when everyone was running around sort of thinking about changing their investment strategies, Bill basically said, ‘Stay the course.’ And I think what I learned from Bill, more than anything else, is just take a long-term focus, have a long-term plan, and just stay the course.
Larry Jennings Jr. (Trustee)
   Senior Managing Director,
   ValStone Partners

Bill Dietrich’s gift to Carnegie Mellon [October issue’s cover story, “Immortal Gift”] has yet another compelling side—overcoming difficulties to afford an education. In my own case, I worked at least two jobs throughout my collegiate years in order to keep afloat. My education allowed me to help design nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, which were crucial in keeping the peace during the Cold War. I helped design the Space Shuttle Main Engines and Hubble Space Telescope, and I solved problems in commercial nuclear power, all recognized in my Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. Most CMU graduates who have made state-of-the-art contributions in engineering and science have been of the Bill Dietrich mold. He is indeed a university icon along with Andrew Carnegie. May God bless his memory and his family and friends for what he has done for talented prospective students.
Bill O’Donnell (E’57)
    Pittsburgh, Pa.

What an inspiring man! To all the graduates of CMU: Keep the fire burning!

Melanie Chinen
    (Parent of Alyssa Chinen S’11)
    Mililani, Hawaii

Headline News
As parents of a Carnegie Mellon student, we have been extremely impressed with Carnegie Mellon Today from the first time we read it and consider it the best college magazine we have ever read.

You can imagine our surprise, though, when we opened up your July issue and saw a write-up on our son, Todd Medema (TPR’14), in the News Flash department [“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”]. He was only a freshman, and yet your magazine saw him as an inspiration to others and chose to write about him. Typically, college magazines focus on their upperclassmen and alumni. You see the value in getting out the word that Carnegie Mellon does not have so many of the barriers that other colleges have and therefore is better able to help students realize their full potential in life. While so many colleges have “in-the-box” thinking, Carnegie Mellon’s thinking is “what box?”

Todd’s incredible experiences at Carnegie Mellon and the article in Carnegie Mellon Today have inspired many, especially in our town of Oakdale, Calif. Our local newspaper, Oakdale Leader, featured him, and now students here are aware of and interested in attending Carnegie Mellon. That’s the best advertisement ever.

Keep up the good work on such an outstanding college magazine, and thank you for inspiring us all to be the best we can be.
Ralph and Jan Medema (P: TPR’14)
    Oakdale, Calif.

Long-Distance Relationship
Receiving Carnegie Mellon Today makes me so proud, especially considering the very long distance that must be taken by this magazine—going from Pittsburgh, USA, to Jakarta, Indonesia. It proves to me the great commitment and sincerity of Carnegie Mellon University in keeping in touch with its alumni. Reading page after page of the October issue was such a thrill and made me miss my adored university. Sweet memories of when I was struggling, learning, and playing with my friends from different cultures and countries echoed back in my mind. Thank you very much for the magazine, and keep staying in touch with alumni!
Inda Monita (HNZ’00)
   Jakarta, Indonesia

Wheeling and Dealing
So many alumni reached out to me after reading the article about me in Carnegie Mellon Today [October issue’s “Trading Places”]. My favorite is an alumna (class of ’04) who is the treasurer of a prospective New York charter school and thought the Citi group I mentioned in the article seemed like an ideal source of financing. So I am now working on connecting the two groups and helping the school receive the necessary start-up financing. I returned home for mid-semester break in October and even had coffee with her! It’s amazing how Carnegie Mellon Today can connect students with alumni to make a difference—what an opportunity. Thank you Carnegie Mellon Today.
Amy Kao (TPR’12)
   Pittsburgh, Pa., and Edison, N.

What's you favorite Carnegie Mellon Today story? Comments? Tell us on Facebook www.facebook.com/carnegiemellonu or Twitter www.twitter.com/carnegiemellon

Back to Top ^


Leave a comment about the story

Comments are moderated and will be published at the moderator's discretion.

Thank you for your comment it has been submited for review.