Over the weekend it was announced that Stanford had bowed out of a NY city-sponsored competition to build a huge engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, and Cornell, which is still in the running, just upped the ante.
Cornell University said that it has received an anonymous $350 million donation to back up its bid for a proposed engineering campus in New York City.
The city of NY will also kick in $100 million. Good times. Well Cornell wants to build the campus in league with the Technion, Israel's version of MIT. As I say often, Follow the money.
From the Cornell University Chronicle, on the intimate connections between the schools. Again I wonder about the fundraising aspects of this alliance:
It should not be a surprise that Cornell and The Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology have formed a partnership to propose building a new campus in New York City focused on technology, innovation and commercialization. A web of collaborative research and a shared mission have been connecting them for at least two decades.
"They are two institutions that are land-grant to the world," said Carol Epstein '61, a member of the Cornell University Council who also sits on the International Board of Governors of the Technion and the National Board of Directors of the American Technion Society...
Cornell faculty are just as likely to teach in Israel. Zygmunt Haas, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has just settled in for two semesters in the electrical engineering department at the Technion, at the invitation of the department chair, teaching a course in his specialty, wireless networks. An administrator at Technion can quickly reel off the names of 15 Technion faculty members, past and present, who have studied or taught at Cornell.
Cornell President David Skorton also has had Technion connections. He and Technion President Peretz Lavie developed a good relationship when Skorton led an American Jewish Committee Project Interchange tour of Israel with other university presidents in the summer of 2010.
As my friend Dennis Loh asks:
Why is US (NYC) courting Israel, a pariah-state, to develop a high-tech state-of-the-art grad school in NYC? The main issue I have is what it implies for the future. Are American students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors going to be working with/for an institution that is fully-partnered with Israel? Given Technion's position in Israel (discrimination against Israeli Palestinians), it raises some very serious questions regarding NYC's role in "legitimizing" Technion. Will US-based brains, resources, and hard work to be "automatically" shared with an Israeli institution? For example, an Asian foreign student working hard at such an institution will indirectly be "helping" Israel. There are so many aspects to this proposed collaboration and the questions should be raised NOW (in public) before the final selection is done in January.
UPDATE: Mayor Bloomberg is reported in today's Times to be going with the Cornell offer. Note that in the piece there is NO mention of the Israeli connection. Huh.