Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Syracuse on April 16.

July 20, 2016

Cornell Alums, Johnson Donor Join Business Leaders, Denounce ‘Disaster’ of Potential Trump Presidency

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A Donald Trump presidency “would be a disaster for innovation,” 145 leaders in the technology industry — including three Cornellians and one generous University donor — argued in an open letter released on July 14.

Former Qualcomm CEO Irvin M. Jacobs ’54, Celmatix founder and CEO Piraye Yurttas Beim Ph.D. ’07 and NextEV USA CEO Padmasree Warrior M.S. ’84 are among the researchers, entrepreneurs and engineers to attach their names to the letter of condemnation.

In April of 2013, Jacobs donated $133 million donation to the University to create Cornell’s Tech’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. Warrior is currently a member of Cornell’s Board of Trustees.

In the open letter — authored by Katie Stanton, the CMO of Color Genomics — industry leaders argued that successful innovation hinges on diversity and the movement of people, values which they claim are at odds with Trump’s vision for America.

“We … believe that progressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth,” the letter said. “Donald Trump, meanwhile, traffics in ethnic and racial stereotypes, repeatedly insults women and is openly hostile to immigration.”

Trump’s “penchant to censor” and disrespect for the law would also harm the development of new technologies, according to Stanton.

“The free and open exchange of ideas, including over the Internet, [is] a seed from which innovation springs,” she said.

Of the three Cornellian signatories, Jacobs has proved the most heavily involved and invested in politics, boasting a record of consistent liberal support.

Over the course of the 2012 election, Jacobs donated $2.3 million to left-leaning political groups, making him the 26th most prolific individual donor in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has also hosted fundraising events for both President Obama and Hillary Clinton — whom he has endorsed in the 2016 presidential election — according to NBC San Diego.

Warrior, who immigrated from India, received her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell and later became a trustee. In 2014, she was named the world’s 71st most powerful woman by Forbes.

Beim founded her company, Celmatix — whose software collects data on patients’ health information and fertility success — two years after completing her Ph.D. at Cornell. The company is currently developing a test to identify genetic mutations that may affect fertility in women, according to Fortune.