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Famous Alumni from Carnegie Mellon University

Famous Alumni from Carnegie Mellon University

Oct 12, 2023

Table of contents

  • A very brief history of Carnegie Mellon University
  • Carnegie Mellon colleges
  • Notable alumni from Carnegie Mellon University
  • Find great, affordable apartments for rent near Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has an alumni network of over 100,000 people, with many graduates achieving great success after completing their studies. These accomplished individuals have been recognized for their achievements in a variety of fields, including art, film, music, business, and academia. 

But what makes CMU such a noteworthy institution, and who are some of the most famous alumni from this prestigious university? Read on to learn about the background of Carnegie Mellon University and some of the famous alumni of the college. 

A very brief history of Carnegie Mellon University

Some of the old architecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon was founded by Andrew Carnegie and Andrew W. Mellon in 1967 after the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. But both institutions have existed for much longer. The Carnegie Institute of Technology was originally founded in 1900 when Andrew Carnegie invested $1 million in creating the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which was also nicknamed Carnegie Tech. 

In 1909, Andrew Mellon and his brother, Richard, co-founded the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. It was decades later, in 1967, that a merger was proposed between the two universities. Carnegie Mellon University was born to continue the vision of higher education, research, and discovery of its founders.

Carnegie Mellon colleges

Carnegie Mellon University is made up of seven colleges: 

  • College of Engineering

  • College of Fine Arts

  • Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences

  • Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

  • Mellon College of Science

  • School of Computer Science

  • Tepper School of Business

Carnegie Mellon University also has degree-granting locations across different continents. 

Notable alumni from Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon is known for its degree programs and notable alumni. Here are some of the most famous alumni to ever graduate from this highly regarded university.

Andy Warhol

Part of a mural with Andy Warhol’s face. Photo by Jon Tyson.

Specialization: Commercial Art in 1945

Profession: Printmaking, Painting, Cinema, and Photography

Andy Warhol has to be one of the most famous alumni of Carnegie Mellon. He majored in commercial art and continued to find success in commercial illustration, printmaking, painting, cinematography, and photography. As a student at Carnegie Mellon, Andy Warhol was involved in a variety of student activities, such as the Modern Dance Club (where he was the only male on the team), the Beaux Art Society, and as an editor of the student publication Cano, where he designed the magazine cover for their 1948 edition. 

After classes, you’d probably find him at The Factory, a popular gathering place for playwrights, dancers, celebrities, and art lovers. You’ve most likely seen his iconic Marilyn Monroe painting, the “Marilyn Diptych,” the beautiful silkscreen painting that is a tribute to the late Hollywood star. He also created a rock band with his friends, Velvet Underground, in the late 1960s and wrote several books during his time, including “The Warhol Sixties,” “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” and “Popism.” 

Blair Underwood

Specialization: Musical Theater and Drama 1988 for Bachelor of Fine Arts 

Profession: Acting and Directing 

Blair Underwood is a renowned Hollywood actor with a passion for the arts. He attended Carnegie Mellon in 1988 and specialized in drama and musical theater. Blair developed a love for the arts in high school, where he acted in school plays; it was then that he decided he wanted to pursue acting. With his parent's blessing, Blair moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in musical theater for three years but dropped out due to the financial strain on his family’s resources. 

However, Blair Underwood did come back to complete the requirements for his bachelor's degree in fine arts two years later by using the first season of his TV show, “L.A. Law,” as an internship and writing his senior thesis on his experiences as a working professional actor. With that, he was able to graduate with his class in the spring of 1988. 

Since then, Blair has acted in a number of popular television shows and movies, including “L.A. Law,” “Sex and the City,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.” He has also completed an 11-week run on Broadway, starring as Captain Richard Davenport in the play, “A Soldier’s Play.”

Blair has won an Emmy for producing, is a two-time Golden Globe nominee, and has won a Grammy award for spoken word.

Ted Danson

Course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama in 1972

Profession: Actor, Producer, and Comedian

Ted Danson pursued his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Mellon in 1972. He was also part of the drama club during his time at Carnegie Mellon University. Ted has produced and acted in multiple NBC and CBS sitcoms, as well as some highly regarded films and TV shows, including “Cheers,” “Becker,” “Fargo,” “The Good Place,” and “Saving Private Ryan.” 

He’s been nominated for 18 Primetime Emmys during his entire acting career and has two wins. 

Apart from acting, Ted Danson is also a big advocate for ocean conservation. He co-founded the American Oceans Campaign (AOC) in 1987 to help increase awareness of the life-threatening hazards created by oil spills, off-shore development, toxic waste, and sewage. AOC merged with Oceana in 2001 to continue its mission statement of conserving the ocean. He published his book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them” in 2011. 

Joe Manganiello

Specialization: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Classical Theater in 2002

Profession: Actor, Writer, and Director 

Joe Manganiello obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in classical theater from Carnegie Mellon in 2002. 

A few of Joe Manganiello’s most notable films and TV shows include “Spider-Man,” “ER,” “One Tree Hill,” “True Blood” and “How I Met Your Mother.” 

Joe Manganiello is married to famous actress Sofia Vergara. The two tied the knot in 2015. 

Leslie Odom Jr.

Specialization: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater in 2003

Profession: Actor, Singer, Musical Theater 

Leslie Odom Jr. received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater from Carnegie Mellon in 2003. He still gives CMU credit to this day for guiding him through his acting and musical career. Some of Leslie Odom’s career highlights include “Hamilton,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” and “Knives Out 2.” 

Leslie Odom has gone on to be to receive multiple award nominations and wins, including a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album for “Hamilton,” a Tony award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical for “Hamilton” and an Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award for his role as the singer Sam Cooke in the movie, “One Night in Miami.” 

Victoria Pedretti

Specialization: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama in 2017

Profession: Actor 

Victoria Pedretti graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus in drama from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017. Her acting career took off just a few months after graduation when she received a role as part of the supporting cast for Netflix’s chilling series, “The Haunting of Hill House,” which tells a new and complete spooky story each season and, of course, in the Netflix psychological thriller, “You,” as the dedicated character, Love Quinn. She also starred in the Quentin Tarantino film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Even though she hasn’t been in the business for long, Victoria Pedretti has had some great roles. 

Victoria Pedretti was also featured in a music video by country superstar Kacey Musgraves for “Star-Crossed: The Film” and “Simple Times.”

Billy Porter

Specialization: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama in 1991

Profession: Actor, Singer, Writer, and Director 

Billy Porter graduated from CMU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a focus in drama, in 1991. Billy has gone on to have successful acting roles, starring in the critically acclaimed series, “Pose” as Pray Tell and in the anthropology series, “American Horror Story.” Billy’s roles, including some of his Broadway shows, include characters from “Grease” (Broadway), “Cinderella,” “Like a Boss” and “Kinky Boots” (Broadway). 

Billy Porter has been nominated and has won many awards throughout his acting career. He’s won one Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role in “Pose” and has been nominated for three Golden Globes. 

Renée Elise Goldsberry

Specialization: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater in 1993

Profession: Actor, Singer, Writer, and Director

Renée Elise Goldberry graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a focus in musical theater, in 1993. Like her counterpart, Leslie Odom Jr., she has also had a role in “Hamilton” as Angelica Schuyler. Renée has become a stage presence on the Broadway scene, along with roles on TV. She has starred in plays, shows, and films. Some of her acting credits include “Ally McBeal,” “The Good Wife,” “Hamilton” (Broadway), and “The Following.”

Renée Elise Goldberry has been nominated and won multiple awards for her role in “Hamilton,” including winning the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album in 2016. 

Find great, affordable apartments for rent near Carnegie Mellon University

These are some of the many notable alumni from Carnegie Mellon University. But if you’re still a CMU student at the university who is looking for housing, or even just a young professional looking for apartments for rent in Oakland, Pittsburgh, it can be difficult to find the right place. Thankfully, Tripalink is here to help. Regardless of whether you’re looking for CMU off-campus housing or an apartment close to work, our service can help you find houses, duplexes, or apartments for rent in Pittsburgh.

Visit our site to find out what housing options we have to offer.

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