Carnegie Mellon students, faculty, staff, and local alumni were welcomed to the on-campus debut of The Da Vinci Effect on October 13 and 14. The Da Vinci Effect, a production of University Advancement, is a theatrical presentation of the positive impact Carnegie Mellon has had in the arts and sciences, as well as in its multidisciplinary research.
Kyle Fisher Morabito, associate vice president for university advancement, welcomed the crowd to the show and explained its goal.
"We want to bring the Carnegie Mellon experience to life," she said.
The Da Vinci Effect is the result of three years of research into Carnegie Mellon's image. The University is hoping to improve its reputation and give outsiders a clear understanding of what differentiates Carnegie Mellon from its peers. Fisher Morabito said that many universities don't think they need a "tagline" or marketing image. Many times this is because they do not want to be labeled as great in only one field. She said the Da Vinci Effect is a clear title that effectively represents all of Carnegie Mellon's strengths.
A perception study conducted by the University in 2002 found that manypeople knew of some but not all of the University's strengths. The Da Vinci Effect was designed to increase the prestige and influence of the Carnegie Mellon name and display all of its strengths.
The performance began with Leonardo da Vinci, played by Roger Gerome, comparing the life of da Vinci to that of Carnegie Mellon. Da Vinci, an artist, inventor, and scientist, said his genius came through applying different disciplines to thought.
Da Vinci's multidisciplinary and practical approach to thinking is the conceptual foundation of the promotional campaign.
"Da Vinci the architect taught da Vinci the engineer," he said. "The real magic happened when ideas collided."
Gerome, as Da Vinci, added that his notebooks have become valuable over time — so much so that Bill Gates purchased one for $30 million dollars. Da Vinci noted the need for money to bring great ideas alive.
The presentation was centered on the themes of imagination, collaboration, and impact. The Da Vinci Effect is the combining of art and technology to create innovation with impact.
"Carnegie Mellon attracts multi-dimensional thinkers," said university President Jared Cohon in his filmed introduction.
The show included a nearly hour-long multimedia presentation of images and discussion centered on the multidisciplinary goals at Carnegie Mellon. It highlighted interdisciplinary work in cyber security, health care, and robotics. It also reminded viewers of Carnegie Mellon's role in developing the internet search industry, desktop computing, and artificial intelligence. Finally, it characterized Carnegie Mellon as a university like no other.
James Gosling (CS '83), the creator of the Java programming language, said in the film, "Stanford and Berkeley have nothing compared to what Carnegie Mellon has."
Images of successful alumni in the arts were interspersed throughout the presentation, including Albert Brooks, Ted Danson, Holly Hunter, Ann Roth, Blair Underwood, John Wells, and Bud Yorkin.
Alumni Sherman Lieberman (E '50) and Yorkin were brothers of fraternity Tau Delta Phi more than 50 years ago. He was happy to see Yorkin featured in the film and remembered his time here well.
"[The Da Vinci Effect] was very good," said Lieberman.
Provost Mark Kamlet recounted his visit to a conference of provosts on the role of Information Technology in education. At the conference, University of Michigan President James Dudderstadt, who had just visited Carnegie Mellon, said, "I saw the future at Carnegie Mellon."
Don Marinelli, professor of drama and arts management, said in his experience working with companies like Pixar and Dreamworks, he has found that the companies "want students with background of the left brain talking to the right brain." Marinelli says students get that experience at Carnegie Mellon.
Fisher Morabito said, "Carnegie Mellon is on the move into a new category of universities; a category of one."
After calling Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University "old school" and Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology "old school the sequel," Fisher Morabito said, "Carnegie Mellon is always the 'new' school, out in front and apart from the rest."
"[The Da Vinci Effect] was awesome," said CIT senior Divya Jesuraj. "It made me realize how much Carnegie Mellon has given me as a person."
The Da Vinci Effect will be taken on the road, promoting the University around the country. Fisher Morabito hopes it will make people see Carnegie Mellon in a new way. She said Carnegie Mellon has been a great secret in the past, and it is now time to promote the University's identity.
Cohon concluded the film by further celebrating Carnegie Mellon's interdisciplinary approach to research, saying thatthe University is "incessantly looking for ways to blends humanities and technology."
"I ask that you be proud of what this University has accomplished and more proud of what it can and will accomplish in the future," said Cohon in the film.
Rohit Kelkar, a graduate student in computer science, said, "The Da Vinci Effect reflects the maverick thinking and the out of the box thinking [at Carnegie Mellon.]"
Though not part of the University's capital campaign, Fisher Morabito expects The Da Vinci Effect to have a positive impact on giving to the University. The show will now go to Los Angeles and New York, two cities with large numbers of students, alumni, and investors.
The Da Vinci Effect was produced by H2, an integrated marketing and internet company head by alumni Tim Husni.
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