January 26, 2006

Gates Foundation Gives $25 Million for Building

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William H. Gates Hall is coming to Cornell, and you can be sure it will have Windows.

Yesterday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $25 million grant to Cornell to “support the construction of a signature building for a planned information campus that will bring together the several units of the University’s faculty of computing and information science,” according to a Cornell News Service press release.

The release indicated that the name of the building was approved at the Jan. 20 meeting of the Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development of the Board of Trustees.

The 100,000-square-foot building will cost $50 million and will be home to a lecture hall, faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories, student project spaces and conference rooms.

It has not yet been decided where the building will be built or when it will be completed.

According to Kenneth Birman, professor of computer science and chair of the CIS building committee, there are “over a dozen” possible locations for the building, which will be a part of an “information campus” which will include several linked buildings.

Birman said that the project calls for the complex to be in close proximity to the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences and the new Life Sciences Building.

“The Gates Foundation grant will have a transformative effect on our academic and research programs by bringing together faculty members who are now scattered across the campus, enhancing opportunities for creative interaction and serving as a focus for computing education and research within the University,” said Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III in the press release.

“It will make Cornell a model for education in the age of digital information by allowing every student, studying any subject, to understand the impact of computers on the development of that subject, and it will distinguish our graduates in every field,” he added.

“The department looks forward to sharing the new spaces with students and colleagues from every corner of the campus – it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Charles Van Loan, the Joseph C. Ford Professor of Engineering and chair the department of computer science.

Bill Gates visited Cornell in February of 2004, giving a lecture and meeting with faculty to explain the needs for more “highly educated computer professionals.”

According to Sylvia Matthews, chief operating officer and executive director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “We believe Cornell can be a model for integrating the benefits of computer science into a wide array of subject and disciplines while maintaining its reputation as a stellar school for computer and information sciences education.”

Archived article by Sun Staff