Joan and Irwin Jacobs give $133M to name Cornell Tech institute

Irwin and Joan Jacobs
Irwin and Joan Jacobs

NEW YORK — Irwin Mark Jacobs ’54, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs ’54, have made a $133 million gift to Cornell and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology to create the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII).

The JTCII is a centerpiece of Cornell NYC Tech, whose permanent campus will be located on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The gift will help support joint activities between Cornell and the Technion, including dual master’s degree programs, faculty, graduate students and industry interactions.

The gift was announced at New York City Hall April 22 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell President David Skorton and Technion President Peretz Lavie.

At the press conference, Skorton thanked the Jacobses for their “transformative” gift to the JTCII, and for their long history of generosity to Cornell. “You can’t go through the Cornell University campus in Ithaca without seeing your influence,” Skorton said. “This … is a big day for all of Cornell University, on all of our campuses, because your continuing generosity has helped us to tie together the expertise we have in so many places, with our new partnership with the Technion.”

The Jacobses are Cornell alumni who have a long history of supporting Cornell and the Technion. They have established the Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs Scholars and Fellows Programs and the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professorship, both in the College of Engineering, as well as the Joan Klein Jacobs Cornell Tradition Fellowship in the College of Human Ecology.

Irwin Jacobs is a former member of the Cornell University Council, and Joan Jacobs served on the President’s Council of Cornell Women. In recognition of their distinguished service to Cornell, the Jacobses were elected Presidential Councillors in 2005.

press conference
Jason Koski/University Photgraphy
Irwin Jacobs addresses the media April 22 at City Hall. Joining him on the dais are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Joan Jacobs, Cornell President David Skorton and Technion President Peretz Lavie. Watch the press conference.

Their support of the Technion includes the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Graduate School and the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Center for Communications and Information Technologies. A member of the Technion International Board of Governors, Irwin Jacobs is a life trustee of the American Technion Society (ATS) National Board of Regents and a member of the ATS San Diego Chapter.

Irwin and Joan Jacobs are among the world’s most generous philanthropists. Their support has had a significant impact on numerous cultural, medical, educational and civic organizations.

“We are delighted to partner with Cornell and the Technion on this unique educational initiative,” said Joan and Irwin Jacobs. “We believe strongly in the mission of this international collaboration to drive innovation and to foster economic development. We are proud of our long association with both of these distinguished institutions and share their dedication to inspire and train a next generation of entrepreneurs, forming new companies and strengthening existing ones including, of course, Qualcomm.”

“Cornell Tech will bring a sharp increase in science and engineering teaching, attract students from around the world, and spin off new local companies and thousands of new jobs, and inject billions of dollars into our economy,” Bloomberg said. “Irwin and Joan Jacobs have helped pave the way for innovations that improve our world, and the endowment they’re creating at Cornell Tech will do the same. We’re grateful for their investment in the future of New York City.”

“Joan and Irwin’s magnificent gift will play a major and decisive role in fulfilling Mayor Bloomberg’s vision of creating a leading global center of innovation in the heart of New York, enabling the city to become the technology capital of the world,” Lavie said. “The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute will also serve as a bridge between Israel and the United States and Haifa and New York.”

Craig Gotsman, founding director of JTCII and the Technion’s Hewlett-Packard Professor of Computer Engineering, said: “I am proud to lead this endeavor that will help bring a global startup culture to New York and encourage the entrepreneurial efforts of our faculty and students. Together with our partners at Cornell Tech, we look forward to nurturing the next generation of applied technology leaders who will meet the needs of New York’s economy.”

The JTCII plans to offer a two-year interdisciplinary program through which students earn dual master’s degrees concurrently, one from Cornell and one from the Technion. This degree program will allow students to specialize in applied information-based sciences in one of three hubs focused on leading New York City industries – connective media, healthier living and the built environment – while honing their entrepreneurial skills. The first area of specialization will be in connective media and is slated to begin in the fall of 2014. Research will also be focused on the hub areas.

A novel Postdoctoral Innovation Fellows Program, to launch in fall 2013, will support individuals who seek to commercialize their research ideas at the JTCII while taking advantage of the entrepreneurial network of Cornell Tech and its proximity to New York City-based markets.

Cornell Tech offers a distinctive model of graduate tech education that fuses scientific excellence with real-world applications and entrepreneurship, rooted in the latest academic research. Students, faculty and industry experts learn and work together to develop ideas and create new ventures that have global impact.

The gift marks another major milestone for the campus. Cornell Tech launched its first degree program in January – a Master of Engineering in computer science – and is rapidly rolling out new programs, recruiting faculty, developing a distinctive new model of tech entrepreneurship, and designing its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island, which will break ground early next year. When completed, the Roosevelt Island campus will house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students.

Media Contact

John Carberry