Cornell dedicated the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education Oct. 18, with a festive reception, remarks from Cornell luminaries and tours of the new building.
Located in Collegetown, at 209-215 Dryden Road, the state-of-the-art, six-story building dramatically expands the teaching capacity of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
“Business education at Cornell is at an inflection point,” said David Breazzano, MBA ’80, whose $25 million gift – one of the largest ever made to business education at Cornell – substantially supported the building. “We’ve consolidated graduate and undergraduate education through Cornell SC Johnson. We’ve embarked on ambitious programs with the new [Cornell Tech] campus on Roosevelt Island. … We’re in a good place, and I am just humbled and honored to be a part of the transformation of business education here.”
Modern in design, with an emphasis on glass and natural wood, the 76,000-square-foot building offers classrooms for 450 students, three floors of administrative offices, two high-definition broadcasting studios and 19 breakout rooms. Glass walls overlook a four-story atrium; this central gathering spot has superior acoustics and is designed to accommodate a wide variety of events.
President Martha E. Pollack was on hand to thank Breazzano.
“Dave is a Cornell trustee, an extraordinary leader of the Johnson alumni community, a champion of the new [college] and someone who fully appreciates the synergies that are opening for Cornell both here in Ithaca, through the SC Johnson College of Business, and in New York City,” Pollack said. “This spectacular new facility, which Dave has made possible, is a harbinger of more exciting opportunities yet to come.”
Pollack also thanked Ithaca city officials for their partnership, noting the building is on the city’s tax rolls.
The Breazzano Center is an important part of an initiative to help redevelop and renew the vitality of Collegetown, said Soumitra Dutta, dean of Cornell SC Johnson.
“It’s an exceptional facility. Not only does it provide state-of-the-art classrooms, office space, two high-def studios, but much more important, really, it provides a forum and a place for our community to get together,” Dutta said. “It’s already exceeding expectations.”
High-tech videoconferencing connects rooms within the building, facilities at Cornell Tech and executive MBA programs in North and South America and China. Simultaneous-translation capabilities mean language is not a barrier to connecting students and faculty with anyone anywhere in the world.
The building was originally conceived when the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management was a stand-alone school, and not part of a business college, noted Mark Nelson, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson.
“I’m very happy that it’s fulfilling all of the goals originally set for it, but also doing so much more for the college,” he said. “When I think about what this building can do for us, I’m really excited.”
The building’s many breakout rooms and new classroom space will enable Johnson to offer residential sessions for executive MBA programs when Ithaca-based students are also on campus, he said. The broadcast studios will support teaching needs of the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program, but also will enable additional outreach. And three floors of office space bring together staff from the college’s three schools, he said. “It’s a joy to see this building when it’s full of students, particularly at night, when it shines out in Collegetown,” Nelson said.
Breazzano, who is co-founder and president of DDJ Capital Management, said he has made hundreds of investments during his career. “And some of them were actually pretty good,” he said. “But I would say this by far is the best investment I ever made.”