Cornell plans to add between one and three international universities as partners to its recently approved New York City tech campus over the next five years, Provost Kent Fuchs said in an interview Friday.
Fuchs said the University hopes to attract at least one university from Europe and as many as two from Asia to bolster the international prestige of the new NYC “global institute,” which already includes the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
“It’s a whole new model,” Fuchs said, adding that the campus will make Cornell the first American university to build a school in the United States with international schools. “We think about going elsewhere — there are many [American] universities that have campuses and partnerships overseas — but not about bringing [international universities] here to the U.S.”
No institutions have been contacted yet, but Cornell aims to find additional universities that are “complementary to the two that are already in this institute,” Fuchs said, adding that the University will start the search in the next six months.
Doing so, according to Fuchs, is not intended as a means of reducing the University’s financial burden for the $2 billion tech campus. Instead, Fuchs said that partnering with international universities is largely intended to help burnish the prestige of the new applied science school and elevate the world standing of Cornell.
“If we have more partners in this innovation institute, it raises the reputation, the ranking, the visibility, the prestige of Cornell in the home countries of those universities, just as it would raise their own prestige,” Fuchs said. “If we had a university from Asia, they’re going to have visibility — that’s why they’d be eager to do it.”
On Dec. 19, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cornell won the right to build a new engineering and technology campus in the city, topping a field of 17 institutions that entered the competition.
The University’s proposed campus, to be built on Roosevelt Island, includes more than two million square feet of space and will house almost 2,000 graduate students and about 250 professors. The project is expected to take 30 years to complete and cost as much as $2 billion.
Although Cornell had not discussed adding international partners during the heated competition for the campus or at a public forum held Friday, Fuchs said the University and the Technion had always planned on doing so. He cited not wanting to “be flooded with other applications” as a reason for delaying the public search for the new partners.
“If I remember correctly, in the agreement with the Technion we talk about creating a global innovation institute and inviting other members,” Fuchs said. “When anyone asks us about this, we certainly tell them.”
Fuchs added that, although the international universities are not likely to shoulder the financial obligations of constructing the new campus, they will “certainly bring resources indirectly.”
The international universities will “bring people, bring ideas and bring opportunities to teach courses,” Fuchs said. “It might be that the additional partners would help pay for physical structure … [but that] would not be our primary purpose; our primary purpose would be to add new opportunities and add prestige.”
Fuchs said that the international universities’ role in the tech campus aligns with President Skorton’s vision for the “internationalization” of Cornell.
Foreign countries will be more likely to send more top-ranked students to the University, Fuchs said, because Cornell’s name “will be all over their press.”