November 1, 2012

Cornell NYCTech Receives $5-Million Donation for First Endowed Professorship

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A $5 million dollar gift given in honor of a recently deceased Cornell alumnus will be used to fund the first endowed professorship at the tech campus, the University announced last month.

Robert Tishman ’37, a native New Yorker and the founder of Tishman Speyer Properties, one of the world’s largest real estate companies, died in 2010 at the age of 94. The gift — $3 million from Tishman’s estate and $2-million donation from the company — will be used to create the Robert V. Tishman Founder’s Chair, according to Dan Huttenlocher, dean of the tech campus.

Huttenlocher said the establishment of the first “founders’ chair” professor on campus represents a major step forward for the tech campus as it seeks to attract prominent faculty to the campus. A founder’s chair, which is funded by an established endowment — in this case, Tishman’s $5 million gift — relieves the University of needing to pay for the position entirely out of its operating budget.

Huttenlocher said that the administration plans to increase the number of founders’ chairs in an attempt to bring in a whole “cohort of star faculty.”

“The founders’ chairs are an important component of our plans for the new campus, both in terms of helping us attract and retain star faculty, and in terms of the financial support to create and grow that faculty,” Huttenlocher said.

Many of the “star faculty” CornellNYC Tech hopes to bring in already hold endowed chair positions at other prestigious universities, according to Huttenlocher. He added that the University does not yet have specific candidates in mind for the new post.

The tech campus was able to announce that it had created its first endowed position earlier than it had expected, Huttenlocher said. He called the development a “big boost” in the tech campus’ fundraising efforts.

The professorship will be open to a faculty hire who specializes in any technology field offered at CornellNYC Tech, Huttenlocher said. Potential areas of expertise for the Tishman founder’s chair are computer science, information science and electrical or computer engineering, according to a University press release.

As a supporter of Boys & Girls Harbor, an East Harlem-based nonprofit, and a chairman at the Montefiore Medical Center, Tishman had a lifelong commitment to philanthropy. Tishman also helped fund computer facilities and technology at various New York City institutions, the University stated.

The founder’s chair for Cornell’s tech campus represents “a perfect testimonial to [Tishman’s] major philanthropic interests,” Tishman’s daughter, Lynn Handler, said in a press release.

“[Tishman was] an early believer in the power of computer technology, particularly as it affected education,” Handler said. “The combination of a major educational facility in New York City that was engaged in the development of information technology would have been truly exciting for him.”

Huttenlocher said that the tech campus’ administration is grateful for Tishman’s donation — a gift that he said will help fuel the next stage of the campus’ development.

“We are extremely grateful to the Handler-Tishman family for their support of this exciting new endeavor,” he said.

Original Author: Jacob Glick