From left, Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff, Niraj Shah ’95, Kavita Bala, dean of Cornell Bowers CIS, Cornell President Martha E. Pollack, Kraig Kayser, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, Alexi Conine and Steve Conine ’95, press a button to start the animation of the new CIS building on an 8-foot-tall screen.

Cornell Bowers CIS celebrates new building

An Oct. 14 ceremony honored the transformative gift from Ann S. Bowers ’59 that established the college that now bears her name, and celebrated the upcoming construction of a new building complex that will help meet rising demand for education and innovation in the computing and information science fields.

“In the years ahead, Ann’s gift will help cement Cornell’s place as one of the very best centers of computing education and research in the world – paving the way for new achievements in the fields of computing, information science, statistics and data science,” President Martha E. Pollack said at the celebration.

The “groundbreaking” ceremony – which featured a video animation of the new building rather than the digging of an actual hole – kicked off a weekend of events for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science during the Cornell Trustee-Council Annual Meeting (TCAM). Faculty, staff, alumni and trustees gathered for the celebration on the lawn on the south side of Gates Hall overlooking Hoy Field, where construction on the state-of-the-art building will begin in early 2023.

A new baseball stadium, to be named for Richard L. “Rich” Booth ’82, is being built on Ellis Hollow Road and is scheduled to open for the start of the 2023 season.

“We’re here to celebrate our future,” said Kavita Bala, dean of Cornell Bowers CIS, at the ceremony. “We’re growing our faculty, who are shaping the future of technology. We’re expanding opportunities for our students for better experiential learning. We have exciting new research initiatives that will position us for continued leadership in tech. And we’re developing a culture where diversity and inclusion are built into the very fabric of our academic ecosystem.”

The building is made possible by Bowers, a Silicon Valley pioneer, whose nine-figure gift in 2020 established the Faculty of Computing and Information Science as a new college.

Also participating in the event were Steve Conine ’95, Alexi Conine ’96 and Niraj Shah ’95, who, with Jill Shah, together made a combined $10 million donation, which built momentum for the new complex. Conine and Shah are co-founders of the homegoods retailer Wayfair.

Instead of putting shovels in the ground, Pollack; Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff; Bala; Steve and Alexi Conine; Shah; and Kraig Kayser, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, gathered to press a button, starting the animation of the new building on an 8-foot-tall screen set to a soundtrack by Yamatai, Cornell’s taiko drumming group. The new space is set to open in spring 2025. 

Other TCAM events celebrating the growth of Cornell Bowers CIS included an Oct. 15 conversation with Bala, Conine and Shah in the Alice Statler Auditorium, and an interdisciplinary showcase in Gates Hall highlighting research from 18 student teams. Both undergraduates and graduate students shared their research – from published work on autonomous vehicles and team collaboration via virtual reality and robotics, to developments in collaborative, federated learning and mobile video games. 

“One of our biggest opportunities to shape the future is through our students,” Bala said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “They are future leaders and innovators who will leave their own indelible mark on the world.”

Patricia Waldron and Lou DiPietro are writers for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.

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