NYC Gives Columbia $15M For New Data Science Campus

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Someday, Lee, all this will be yours. <3 Bloomberg

Remember that contest for a new applied sciences campus that we lost? Well, we got a consolation prize! According to a press release from City Hall, the city will give Columbia $15 million towards the construction of the new Institute of Data Sciences & Engineering. Of course, it’s not really a new campus; Columbia’s just adding three extra buildings an extra building (along with space on currently empty floors) and 75 extra faculty members to the Manhattanville and Morningside campuses. (For more details on the original proposal for the new campus, check out the December 2011 Blue & White) But it’s still a pretty big deal. The press release says that the new campus “will provide a major boost to the City’s economy over the next several decades,” to the tune of nearly $4 billion.

The press release speaks of Columbia in such glowing terms that it might plausibly have been written by a member of the Class of 2016. Apparently, we are “one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions,” and “in the last decade, Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has grown rapidly in national prominence.”

By national prominence, they of course mean USNews ranking: “in a ranking of the top 20 engineering schools by US News and World Report during this time period, Columbia jumped from 31st to 16th in the country.” Though we’re not sure how SEAS was part of the top 20 when it ranked 31, we get the point: Columbia is so good. And the new data sciences campus will make it even better. Thanks for the 15 mil, Bloomberg!

Lion king reference via the NYC Mayors Office’s Instagram

Here’s the press release:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger today announced an agreement between the City of New York and Columbia University that will lead to the creation of a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering, to be located at Columbia’s Morningside Heights and Washington Heights campuses in New York City, and the hiring of dozens of new faculty within the university’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The announcement is the next milestone in the City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which seeks to dramatically increase New York City’s capacity for applied sciences and engineering while strengthening and transforming the City’s economy for generations.

As part of the agreement, the City will provide $15 million in critical financial assistance to Columbia – which includes discounted energy transmission costs and partial debt forgiveness – as well as valuable lease flexibility leading to the development of the Institute. The agreement includes the creation of 44,000 square feet of new applied science and engineering space on Columbia’s campus by 2016 and the addition of 75 new faculty over the next decade and a half. The focus of the new institute will be on advances in the data sciences, attracting high-caliber faculty in specific fields of study, and expanding Columbia’s research capabilities and funding, and building upon the school’s recent successes in engineering.

In addition, the institute will enhance the level of training available to the city’s next wave of talented engineers and generate nearly $4 billion of economic growth across the five boroughs over the next three decades, bringing the total economic impact of the City’s three Applied Sciences NYC projects to more than $33 billion over the same period. The Mayor and President Bollinger were joined at the announcement, which took place at Columbia’s new Northwest Corner Building in Morningside Heights, by Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Interim Dean of Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Donald Goldfarb, Columbia Computer Science professor and inaugural Director of the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering Kathy McKeown, the Institute’s Deputy Director, professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Patricia Culligan, as well as State Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Member Gale Brewer and City Council Member Robert Jackson.

“This historic partnership is newest element in the applied sciences initiative that is, by far, the largest and most far-reaching economic development effort City government has undertaken in modern memory,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It will create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, and it will encourage the growth of the tech sector in New York City and solidify our leadership in the innovation economy for decades to come.”

“Through this Applied Science initiative Mayor Bloomberg has energized the conversation about the essential role of universities in our City’s economic future,” said President Bollinger. “We are proud of Columbia Engineering’s ascent among its peers over the past decade and the impact of its constant stream of innovations on our economy. We know from experience that the creativity and dynamism of this new Data Sciences Institute will be ignited by collaborations that are possible because they are part of the wide diversity of intellectual excellence that defines not just a great urban research university like Columbia, but the genius of New York City itself.”

The Columbia proposal was selected due to its impressive vision to build upon the University’s recent successes in applied science and create an even greater impact for the City by developing a multi-disciplinary institute that will use research and scholarship to help address the challenges and the opportunities presented by a data-rich society. Data science in recent years has proven itself to be an important commercially viable area of research. The new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering will focus on five specific areas which will be crucial to New York City’s innovation economy in the 21st century, including a New Media Center, a Smart Cities Center, a Health Analytics Center, a Cybersecurity Center, and a Financial Analytics Center.

The new Columbia institute will complement the City’s many other leading institutions, including the previous Applied Sciences NYC selections of the partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which will build a campus on Roosevelt Island, as well as an NYU-led consortium building the Center for Urban Science and Progress in Downtown Brooklyn. Collectively, these institutions will continue to strengthen New York City’s global competiveness – including its growing technology sector – and ensure that the City establishes itself as a global hub of science, research, innovation and world-class urban solutions for the future.

In the last decade, Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has grown rapidly in national prominence, demonstrating the most upward momentum of any top ranked school in the nation. For instance, in a ranking of the top 20 engineering schools by US News and World Report during this time period, Columbia jumped from 31st to 16th in the country. In addition, the percentage of Columbia’s engineering faculty elected to the national Academies of Engineering and Sciences ranks SEAS among the nation’s top five engineering schools. This recent growth, coupled with the creation of this new world-class institute, will continue this incredible trajectory and permanently establish the school among the nation’s top schools in these fields.

Columbia will begin the development of the first of two phases of Institute immediately, first creating 44,000 square feet of new applied sciences and engineering facilities in existing buildings by August 2016 for the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. In addition, Columbia will hire 30 new faculty members as a part of the first phase, and ultimately expects to expand the Institute faculty to 75 by 2030. As part of phase 2, Columbia may expand the Institute’s use of the Audubon building at the University’s Medical Center in Washington Heights and at the same time create a 10,000 square foot Bio-Research incubator in the building.

In order to help offset a portion of the costs associated with this major investment by one of the nation’s premier academic research institutions, the City and NYCEDC will provide up to $15 million in benefits to Columbia, for the development of the Institute, including discounted energy transmission costs, partial debt forgiveness, as well as a lease amendment that will provide needed flexibility for the development of the Institute. The benefits are contingent upon Columbia meeting benchmarks associated with the hiring of the additional faculty and fit-out of agreed upon academic space. Columbia, for its part, will contribute at least $80 million in private investment to facilitate this project. The support from the City of New York to create additional space and hire this additional faculty will allow Columbia to begin, in full, the plans for the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering.

This agreement will provide a major boost to the City’s economy over the next several decades. According to an economic impact analysis conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Columbia project is expected to generate $3.9 billion (nominal) in overall economic activity over the next three decades, including 4,223 permanent jobs and 285 construction jobs. In addition, 170 companies are expected to spin-off in the City as a result of the project during this time. Collectively, with the Cornell/Technion and NYU-led consortium projects, the City’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative will generate $33.2 billion (nominal) in overall economic activity, 48,241 permanent and construction jobs, and 945 spin-off companies by 2046, fulfilling the initiative’s goal of dramatically transforming the City’s economy for the 21st century.

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  1. A new Institute of Data?

    That's Excel-lent!

  2. Anonymous  

    This makes me so fucking happy.

  3. Anonymous

    There will be no new buildings from that grant. Nothing will happen in Manhattanville either. There will only be approximately 5 new faculty per year for the next 15 years and a new Institute. Just read press releases carefully next time FFS.

  4. Anonymous

    Columbia is the best!!!

  5. Anonymous

    Columbia's graduate schools of engineering are ranked 16th, its undergraduate school is ranked 4th in the nation with CC.

  6. this

    has been a great decade for Columbia under Bollinger's leadership. All of Columbia's grad schools have seen improvements.

    we ascended from 10th to 4th in the US News college rankings, and all hope the momentum will continue forth

    As a dormant alum until now, I'll take out my checkbook this year

  7. Anonymous

    "The agreement includes the creation of 44,000 square feet of new applied science and engineering space on Columbia’s campus by 2016"

    I don't know how they can say 2016 with a straight face. No chance in hell.

  8. Anonymous

    Pena-Mora's status as dean held this up, right? Good job, Goldfarb and Bollinger.

  9. Nice

    That's great! But it's less than 5% of the original proposals space. Will they cut other programs at some point? If not... how can the project produce the desired impact?

  10. Anonymous

    are the new engineering buildings in ManVille going to look as ugly as Mudd?

  11. Anonymous

    The director and associate director are from Pena-mora's administration (vice deans). But where is Pena-mora now?

  12. Anonymous

    Kathy McKeown. What a BAMF.

  13. edit vote

    "towards" = thumbs down
    "toward" = thumbs up

  14. CC '11

    Gag. Sad that you care about rankings as opposed to, you know, the actual educational experiences of students or the impact we make on our community. If you're going to feel proud of Columbia for something, why not the great research the professors do every year? Or the awesome projects student groups do? Or our unparalleled Core Curriculum? If you don't care enough to fund those, but you're willing to finally whip out the checkbook based on USNWR rankings, you clearly didn't learn much in your time in Morningside.

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