With an $11 million gift from Lisa Baker and Richard Baker ’88, Cornell’s real estate program will hire additional faculty and create a more robust curriculum in an effort to become one of the nation’s top-tier programs, according to John Siliciano ’75, senior vice provost for academic affairs.
The two-year master’s program currently has a $5 million endowment and faculty from seven of Cornell’s colleges and departments — the School of Hotel Administration; the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; the Department of Landscape Architecture; the Department of City and Regional Planning; the Interior Design Program; the Johnson School MBA Program and the Law School.
According to Siliciano, the endowment will allow the program to work directly with AAP and the Hotel School.
“At the same time as Baker is endowing this program, we’re moving it out to the supervision of the deans who are able to more effectively direct it because their colleges are more involved with it,” Siliciano said. “We’re moving the leadership to those two colleges as a way of making sure that it continues to grow in the right way.”
The endowment will specifically pay for physical space in AAP and the Hotel School, which are expected to collaborate and offer a comprehensive set of career and supplemental services, according to a University press release. These changes are scheduled to take effect on July 1.
Due to this proposed partnership, students will have “the opportunity to take advantage of all the dynamic real estate exposure and opportunities that exist at the School of Hotel Administration and the natural relationship that occurs between real estate, urban design and architecture,” Richard Baker said in the press release.
In the press release, AAP Dean Kent Kleinman called the gift “transformative.”
“[It] will catapult real estate studies at Cornell to the very pinnacle of the field,” Kleinman said. “The restructuring, combined with the gift, opens entirely new horizons for the program.”
According to Siciliano, the gift came at an opportune time for implementing changes to the program.
“The program has reached a point where it really needs to evolve further,” he said. “In order to make a fully robust curriculum, additional financing would be very important … The program is already very strong with very good students. This will continue to strengthen it very considerably. It’s an extremely generous and important gift.”
The Bakers also gave an additional $1 million to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.
According to Museum Director Stephanie L. Wiles, the money will be used in a collaboration with artist Leo Villareal, whose work includes collections in the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the tunnel walls between the East and West buildings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
For the Johnson Museum, Villareal will create “site-specific” artwork — art that is specifically tailored to suit one area and cannot be moved without being destroyed — for the ceiling of the museum’s Mallin Sculpture Court, Wiles said. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of next semester.
“We have been talking with the donors and the artists for a while and it just was something that came together,” Wiles said. “It’s terrific to be able to provide the widest possible experience of art to the Cornell campus and community, so I’m very excited to start working on it. We’re very grateful to the Bakers.”