Frequently asked questions about NYC tech campus

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John Carberry

CornellNYC Tech -- home of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute is generating interest -- and questions -- from around the community. The Chronicle will periodically run answers to frequently asked questions. Have a question about the NYC tech campus? Send it to

Feb. 24, 2012


Where do I send my questions about the CornellNYC Tech campus?

A new campus email has been set up for that purpose:

What kind of policies will the new campus have on admissions, employment, outreach and research?

Research, education, outreach and employment practices for the campus will follow Cornell's established nondiscrimination, academic freedom and open-research policies and practices.

How about research requirements for the new campus, specifically?

The new campus will follow Cornell's established research policies, as described in Chapter 5, beginning on Page 104, of the Faculty Handbook.

How committed are we to sustainability for the new campus?

Our commitment to sustainability for the new campus continues to be strong. We are required to build our campus to a minimum of a LEED silver rating, but our goal is to surpass that level and to be a leader in sustainability in New York City. In particular, we are striving to build the first academic building as "net-zero." While challenging, we believe it is an achievable goal due to our experience and expertise, coupled with currently available technologies. Our design team has begun the detailed planning and analysis necessary to finalize our approach. We are committed to expanding our successes in climate action, energy efficiency and sustainability to the CornellNYC Tech campus. Building a sustainable campus will attract and inspire students and faculty as they learn and discover new smart technologies for the built environment.

If fundraising and other funding sources for the new campus are not entirely successful going forward, will funding be diverted to the new campus from other Cornell sources?

No. We are fully committed to the success of the new campus and are confident that fundraising will continue to be successful. When we laid out our proposal to the greater Cornell community, the reaction we got was very impressive -- people really understood and supported our vision for the campus and were willing to reach out to help us succeed. It's going to take a lot of work to raise the needed funds, but we would not be doing this if we did not firmly believe we would be successful, without pulling funding from other Cornell sources.

How will the new campus reach out into the local schools, including students in K-12 and teacher support?

In the coming months, Cornell will begin to work with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) and others to define the specific programs that will be most effective in supporting our goals of impacting thousands of NYC schoolchildren and hundreds of teachers each year. We envision that our faculty, graduate students and alumni mentors will interact directly with students and teachers in workshops, career support, Cornell-sponsored student competitions, homework help, and other interactive learning activities.

I am interested in finding out about opportunities to work at the CornellNYC Tech campus. Is there a place I can go to find out what positions are available?

We are just starting the process of defining our needs for talent on the new tech campus. We have created a website, which will be where you will find all available positions posted. You can sign up to receive updates.


Feb. 10, 2012


How was the process of negotiating with New York City?

We were extremely impressed with every aspect of the proposal process, including the professionalism and expertise of the NYC Economic Development Corporation (the agency responsible for this project). Cornell University has been in New York City for over 100 years, starting with our medical college. The city has a well-defined system for large projects of this type, and we are very familiar with working within that process. The Cornell team is knowledgeable about city policy and planning issues, which helped us formulate our proposal and know what to expect when discussing issues with the city. New York City has been a great partner from the outset and continues to be extremely supportive now that the project is under way.

What does the creation of a New York City campus mean for the Ithaca campus and the Ithaca region in general?

For one thing, in the few short weeks since being awarded the campus, we have already heard from a number of outstanding companies, alumni, faculty and staff who want to develop new or deeper connections with Cornell. These relationships are not limited to New York City -- many have expressed interest in working with us here in Ithaca. Thus, this initiative will have the added effect of helping us in Ithaca attract great people -- faculty, students and staff -- some of whom we expect will stay and help create new businesses in this area.

Will there be fewer students on the Ithaca campus?

No, the new campus will allow us to hire additional faculty and staff and increase our overall student population. Cornell will be expanding its graduate student base by over 2,000 within 30 years. The New York City campus will complement the educational programs in Ithaca, with its focus on technology commercialization and ties to industry. Students who are attracted to NYC will be those with a significant interest in becoming technology innovators and entrepreneurs, while those attracted to Ithaca will likely have more interest in broader courses of study or in areas outside of technology commercialization.

What are the traffic patterns from Ithaca to New York City going to look like?

We anticipate more traffic between Ithaca and NYC. We are planning to add more buses to our already established "Campus-to-Campus" bus system. In terms of carbon footprint, the campus-to-campus system boasts a very green footprint when compared to low-occupancy private cars.

Will any money flow back from New York City to the upstate/central New York region?

We expect Ithaca to gain greater visibility as a place to do business, with better connections to one of the world's main centers of commerce. When people and ideas flow between two points, the economy follows. We expect that the increase in startups in the NYC area will further lead to more startups in central New York, the Southern Tier and the Ithaca area as the new campus increases interest and opportunities for technology commercialization across the university. The knowledge we build around startups and growing technology companies in NYC should translate to the Ithaca area.

Wasn't the whole bidding process very expensive?

Costs associated with the bidding process were covered in part by a generous million-dollar gift from alumni who were anxious to see Cornell compete successfully for the project. Additional funds were drawn from the provost's discretionary fund, which is intended to cover the costs of new initiatives - and the NYC tech campus certainly qualifies as such.

What about costs associated with the early phases of the project?

Due to the generosity of Atlantic Philanthropies and its founder, alumnus Chuck Feeney, the initial phase of the project is covered.


Jan. 26, 2012

Tell us about the partnership with Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology?

At the heart of the NYC tech campus we are already preparing to build on Roosevelt Island. Cornell University and the Technion will establish and operate together a path-breaking institute to conduct joint global research with a unique emphasis on the application of sciences, entrepreneurship and management. The Technion Cornell Innovation Institute (TCII) will welcome students seeking Cornell and Technion master's and doctoral degrees in fields such as computer science, information science, and electrical and computer engineering. Once accredited in the state of New York, TCII will confer a dual Cornell/Technion Master of Applied Science degree.

How will the NYC campus differ from our Ithaca campus?

The NYC campus, with Cornell's partnership with the Technion, will be focused on research and graduate degrees around the tech sector. A key defining aspect of the new campus's graduate-level academic programs is the close tie to business and entrepreneurship that will be woven throughout the curriculum from the beginning. For instance, each graduate student will have industry mentors and complete projects that are co-supervised by these mentors. Research will be focused on technology in application areas that have great commercial potential in New York City markets. While this scope will likely involve almost every existing Cornell college, the focus is more narrow than the broad research and educational activities in Ithaca.

Why did Cornell decide to submit a proposal?

Enlarging our footprint and engagement in New York City is consistent with our established strategic plan, and this type of outreach, beyond Ithaca, is core to our mission and our vision for the future strength of Cornell.

Will financial resources for the NYC campus be drawn from Ithaca?

No. The new Roosevelt Island campus will result in no negative financial impact on the main Ithaca campus and no net loss of resources. Due to the generosity of Atlantic Philanthropies, the estimated first 10 years of capital and operating requirements are covered. Further construction will be on a pay-as-you-go basis, and no construction will begin on a facility until it is fully funded -- as has been the case on the Ithaca campus, most recently with Milstein Hall, the Physical Sciences Building and the upcoming Humanities Building. While the overall budget model for the new campus is still being determined, the funding model will consist of research grants and contracts from the government, companies and foundations, as well as continued philanthropy and tuition.

How will this campus benefit those of us who are not directly involved in the tech sector?

The new campus will offer many benefits to the Ithaca campus and to students and faculty of the university as a whole. The application of technology and commercialization touches on almost every college -- already a number of colleges are considering their likely participation in the campus including the Johnson School, Human Ecology, Architecture, Art and Planning, Computing and Information Science, Engineering, and likely Agriculture and Life Sciences, Law, Hotel Administration and other units.

The tech campus fits within the established strategic plan for the future of Cornell University, both in the city and as a major global institution. And, just as Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar has enhanced the global reputation of the entire university, the new NYC campus also will enhance Cornell's reputation and attraction to all new students and faculty, as well as increasing the university's capacity nationally and around the world. Overall reputation building allows us to attract the best students, faculty and staff -- it elevates the Cornell brand across the board. The campus will also ensure that Cornell is much more plugged into the business world -- connections that result in a stronger alumni network, more industry programming and research-support, and better job opportunities for students, etc.

Will faculty and students from the Ithaca campus be moved to the new campus?

While we envision a great deal of traffic between the two campuses, faculty will be hired specifically for the new campus. Most will be new to Cornell; we are already hearing from some great faculty who are interested in exploring positions with us in New York City. In the future, there will be opportunities for Ithaca faculty and students to spend time at the new campus part time, in the summer or during sabbaticals, as well as other academic and research opportunities. And undergraduates, while not getting degrees at the campus, also will have opportunities for research, projects and internships. Some faculty based in Ithaca may be visiting there on a regular basis, particularly those interested in applied research that could form the basis for technology companies -- a trend already happening in Ithaca. But there will be no net transfer of full-time faculty or graduate students from Ithaca to New York City.

When will construction begin?

Construction on Roosevelt Island is expected to begin with demolition of the existing buildings on the site in 2014, with the new campus opening in 2017.

When will classes begin?

Initial instruction, beginning in September 2012, will be in leased space in New York City and will include some students now enrolled at our existing campuses whose studies align with the new campus's focus. Full degree programs will begin in 2013, as the faculty is expanded, admissions operations are finalized, and necessary approvals are secured.

When will applications be open, and how can prospective students apply?

Details on the applications process will be available in the coming months.

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