Now Everyone Will Know That Cornell Means Business

By Morgan, John | The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, February 23, 2012 | Go to article overview

Now Everyone Will Know That Cornell Means Business


Morgan, John, The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Expanding into the Big Apple provides a platform for high-tech start- ups. John Morgan reports.

Cornell University has a $4.4 billion (Pounds 2.8 billion) endowment, the global prestige enjoyed by Ivy League institutions and a picturesque campus nestled close to the national parks and waterfalls of upstate New York: a location that "inspires love at first sight", according to the university's website.

Yet Cornell casts envious eyes towards Boston and California's Silicon Valley: to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to Stanford University, with their reputations for turning out graduates who create successful technology-led businesses.

That yearning for more recognition in the creation of start-ups was a driving force in Cornell's decision to enter the contest - which it won in December - to build a science and engineering graduate campus in New York City, more than 200 miles from its home campus in Ithaca.

Kent Fuchs, Cornell's provost, said: "The advantage that Stanford and MIT have had is that their new business creation has been focused right next to the campus, while ours has been dispersed throughout the world."

Scenic though Ithaca may be, it is not a thriving business hub - so Cornell does not always receive recognition for its graduates' business records because they set up shop in bigger cities.

"Cornell graduates have a long history of setting up companies, but often Cornell doesn't get the credit for this," Professor Fuchs said.

"What this (the new campus) will do for us is it will allow those companies to be focused in a specific area of New York.

"The campus will have great benefits for the city but also give us a lot of visibility and credit for doing that."

The New York campus is scheduled to open in September at a temporary location before establishing itself at a spectacular permanent site on Roosevelt Island, in the East River, by 2017.

Professor Fuchs said that while the city administration did not have Roosevelt Island as its preferred site, Cornell was sold on that location from the start.

The aim is for the campus to found spin-off companies on either side of the East River in Manhattan and Queens - areas to which the campus will be well connected thanks to bridge, subway and tram links.

Expansion via a graduate school fits well with Cornell's strategy, which is committed to remaining at current levels of about 13,000 undergraduate students. …

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