September 28, 2011

Cornell Says NYC Campus May Open by Summer

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Speaking to an audience of Cornell alumni on Tuesday at Google’s New York City headquarters, Prof. Dan Huttenlocher, dean of Computing and Information Science, revealed an outline of the University’s proposal to construct an engineering and applied science campus on Roosevelt Island.

“We’re proposing to get going right away. We would start operating by summer and we would have students in the city by fall,” Huttenlocher said.

If Cornell’s proposal is accepted, by 2013 the campus will begin admitting student applicants from across the country into its graduate degree programs. Huttenlocher said these programs would focus on building entrepreneurial skills and providing students with start-up internships and outside mentors.

“A key aspect of our proposal is that these degree programs are full-time, which is really important in attracting the best and brightest technology minds from around the world to New York City,” Huttenlocher said. “And then once we’ve attracted them here, the deep engagement with the mentorship network and the business community in New York will get them to be inclined to stay and start their businesses in New York City once they graduate.”

Cornell hopes to open the Roosevelt Island campus to more than 300 full-time students in 2017. Before that, however, programs would be held in rented space, Huttenlocher said.

By the time the campus is completed, the school will have 250 faculty members, 2,000 or more full-time students and more than 2 million square feet of developed space.

In a discussion on the structure of the academic program, Huttenlocher announced that the school would be organized around research hubs that are “interdisciplinary and designed to be much more flexible than traditional departments.”

The hubs would use knowledge from across various disciplines and change according to the demand for talent in new business sectors, Huttenlocher said.

Huttenlocher gave an example of a research hub that he called “Connective Media” that would bring together technology and the social sciences in order to create jobs in for the growing social media industry.

Cornell is currently one of 26 universities planning to submit proposals to the city by the Oct. 28 deadline.

On Monday, Purdue University officials told The Wall Street Journal that that were dropping out of the competition.

Stanford University President John Hennessy stated in an interview on Monday that, under his university’s proposal, classes would be offered in the city by 2013.

The Journal reported that, in an attempt to strengthen its bid, Stanford officials met with City University of New York officials two weeks ago to discuss a “possible partnership.”

Stanford University spokesperson Lisa Lapin called the report’s wording of the meeting “inaccurate,” but confirmed that Stanford leaders had established an “active conversation in NYC with the business community, the tech community and the financial sector.”

Cornell has also been in continuous discussion with business leaders in New York City and around the country, Huttenlocher said. He expressed confidence that Cornell’s established presence in New York would give its proposal the edge over those of other contending universities.

“If a school doesn’t have good roots in New York, it may attract good students here and just be a pipeline to jobs elsewhere in the country,” Huttenlocher said. “We believe strongly that a Cornell in New York, with the strong ties to all of you and others that we have here, would really change that pattern. But for another school that doesn’t have a strong network in New York City, it might never happen.”

Original Author: Dennis Liu