Bloomberg Gives $100 Million for Cornell Tech’s New Campus


Cornell University, which is constructing a new high-tech campus in New York City, received a boost from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies in the amount of $100 million.

The first academic building will be named the Bloomberg Center in honor of Bloomberg’s daughters.  The former mayor, an engineering student in college, said the high-tech college campus in the center of New York City’s Roosevelt Island had been a vision of his during his administration, and he knew that it would bring in “thousands of jobs.”

Michael Balsamo, reporting for Associated Press, writes that Cornell Tech came to be in December 2011 after becoming the winner of an applied sciences initiative by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which came with a $400 million award. The corporation asked for proposals to build a campus that would encourage the growth of the tech industry.

In the last two years, 100 students have graduated, said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher, which included 75 graduates in May.

The new campus will be built on 12 acres and will include academic buildings, offices, and a residential housing complex. The student housing will have the distinction of being the first residential housing high-rise in the world that meets “passive house sustainability standards”. It will use 60- 70% less energy than typical buildings of the same size, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Elizabeth Harris, reporting for The New York Times, quotes the university’s president:

“From my perspective, this is closure of a process that Mike Bloomberg and his team started some years ago by creating the applied sciences initiative,” Dr.David J. Skorton, the president of Cornell, said. “The Bloomberg Center will, in perpetuity, carry the name of the person whose idea the whole campus was.”

The center, which was designed by Thom Mayne of Morphisis Architects, will be one of the first buildings to open in 2017. Another donation of $350 million was given by Charles F. Feeny who attended Cornell and became wealthy as a result of his duty-free stores. Mr. Feeny has spent years giving his millions away.

Dr. Skorton said the school would not be using any of its endowment for the project and hopes to raise $1 billion for Cornell Tech by the end of 2021. Currently, there are 15 faculty members, 24 Ph.D. students, and four master’s programs in engineering, health care, and business.

On the Bloomberg Philanthropies site, a description of Michael Bloomberg explains that he built and now runs a multi-billion dollar global data and media company and ran a major city government, but that his passion is philanthropy. Bloomberg believes, says his bio, that “you give what you can”, as he demonstrated when he wrote a $5 check to his college, which was all he could afford, when he graduated.

Bloomberg now has the resources to share, and he plans to give away as much as is feasible. As he says, “The problem with great wealth is that you can’t take it with you.” So, Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on public health, arts and culture, the environment, education, and government innovation.

He has given more than $1 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. The site informs that:

The university’s School of Hygiene and Public Health – the largest public health facility in the U.S. – is now the Bloomberg School of Public Health in recognition of Mike Bloomberg’s commitment and support.