Stanford explores NYC engineering campus

University President John Hennessy. (Stanford Daily File Photo)

University President John Hennessy announced during Thursday afternoon’s Faculty Senate meeting that Stanford is investigating the invitation to establish a New York City campus focused on applied science and technology.

The University is “exploring” the possibility, said spokeswoman Lisa Lapin ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in December that the city was seeking a “world-class university” to partner with and build an engineering school on public land. The idea grew from the city’s concern over attracting technology companies and jobs to New York, which lacks a top graduate school in engineering.

“This is sort of a first for us,” Lapin said. The idea is “still in the exploration stage,” she added.

“I think remembering that we are a university that serves this nation, and I think we need to take a page out of the President’s State of the Union address,” Hennessy said when asked about the advantages of such a center. “I think the challenge in the U.S. is to create more centers of innovation and vibrancy, which this university is qualified to undertake.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked Stanford’s engineering school second behind M.I.T. in 2010. The school’s doctoral programs in computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering boast top rankings by the National Research Council, according to the school’s website.

Hennessy stressed that this would not be a satellite campus operating similarly to those hosted abroad — with typically one revolving faculty member present each quarter — but an actual second Stanford campus.

In addition to Stanford’s 8,180-acre home campus, the University maintains Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, Calif., a program for undergraduates in Washington, D.C., and 11 overseas programs.

He said that initially, there would be at least computer science and electrical engineering departments that would “admit faculty and students in an integrated fashion with the University.”

These departments would serve as building blocks from which the campus could expand over time. The initial concept envisions hosting 25 faculty members, 125 Ph.D. students and 250 masters students from the School of Engineering and the Graduate School of Business, according to a press release shared at the meeting.

According to Hennessy, much of the response thus far has been positive, but officials will discuss finances, academic considerations and other factors before reaching a final decision.

“The time is coming when universities will be in more than one location…and I believe the institution that figures out how to make it work and make it work well will be in a significantly valued position,” Hennessy said.

A team from Stanford, along with representatives from approximately 15 other universities, attended an informational meeting with city officials on Feb. 1 to learn more about the project. Hennessy reiterated that this project is “very much a competition.”

Official expressions of interest are due by Mar. 16.

About Kate Abbott

  • jealous

    This would be an amazing opportunity. I’m incredibly jealous that this won’t be done by the time I graduate.

  • Absurd

    This makes no sense at all. Stanford maintains its engineering status in its location–establishing an engineering campus, relying solely on the clout of its name in engineering and on its endowment, won’t make a magically “top” engineering school. Do they think that schools like Columbia aren’t trying hard? Why doesn’t the city of NY just dump money into Columbia’s already strong engineering school and just wait for it to become one of the premier schools for engineering, which it will inevitably (money talks after all)? And since when did Stanford care about whether a city across the country is attracting enough tech companies, especially when that city itself already has its own Tech Valley (by that logic shouldn’t Stanford help out a city in an attractive location but which is much worse off than NY in tech development)? Since the campus engineering school isn’t going to up and leave, it’d make the study of engineering under Stanford fragmented. Not to mention it’d fragment the university, period. Hopkins or Jasper is one thing; New York though? Stanford already gets too many applicants as it is and establishing a NY campus will only exacerbate that, given that NY is an attractive location (Stanford and NYU are often considered the two most popular “dream colleges”–the reason for NYU’s placement even above schools like Harvard is predictable).

    I also wonder what they mean by “partner with the city”; does that mean that it’d be partly publicly funded after establishment? Cornell is an awesome school but people tend to shut it out of the most elite (a la Harvard, Yale, etc.) most likely because of its status as a part-public, part-private university.

    Can Stanford even afford this, not just in money but in effort? What about the arts at Stanford? Graduate and undergraduate housing? Redeveloping west campus? Scrapping and redoing the med school and the hospital/clinics? On top of that Stanford’s talked about expanding undergraduate size, which it probably will do eventually, as its peers have been expanding. It’s also the only one of its peers that’s need-aware for international students, which is counterintuitive to Stanford’s global mission and which, they say, will change only once Stanford’s endowment is large enough for it. Unless the cost of living goes down in the area, Stanford’s going to need to keep increasing its professors/staff salaries to remain competitive. Let’s not forget (due to complacency perhaps) that, despite the university’s great breadth and depth, it’s still lagging in a great many disciplines that it keeps saying it wants to build up (various humanities, vast array of arts disciplines, etc.).

    These are just the reasons off the top of my head that it just doesn’t seem sensible at all. I doubt the university will find it prudent after the “exploration stage.”

  • john

    I agree with Absurd. My main concern is that a new school in NYC would not meet the same standards as Stanford and drag down the Stanford name.

    Stanford has had over a 100 years to get things right here in Palo Alto. It is not so easy to start from scratch and build a world class institution. There would be a long learning curve.

  • john

    Also, if there is any loose cash hanging around, I think Stanford should refurbish and modernize the dorms.

  • kate

    Engineering? Really? Didn’t they just revamp the engineering quad that’s already on campus? They need to focus on what they already have and make it better. Dominating two coasts is just not going to happen.

    If they are going to make a NYC location, it really should be an ARTS-based location.
    (Please support your artists!)

  • bobo

    This is a really stupid idea. Why make an isolated campus 2000 miles away and cheapen the Stanford name instead of investing in the campus here? How about we reinstate the Overseas Seminars program first?

  • Cardinal

    No engineering justification to this. But put on your marketing hat for a minute: Stanford would be aided in posturing itself as a national brand, have nice Manhattan address, tout access to NYC environment, etc., and Bloomburg can crow about how his city is just so amazing that everyone is dying be associated with it. Plus, lots of endowment money spent on fancy advisers and consultants [who happen to be friends of the right people] to set the venture up.

  • Not enough money

    The article says that NYC would give only about $100m and not any building/land space, and the endeavor as a whole is much much costlier than that. This seems more like a venture that a university would already be thinking about (so the $100m would be very useful but most of the funding would’ve been coming from the university anyway).

  • CalTech’74

    MIT and Stanford are the top engineering schools? Hmmmmmmm..

  • john

    Caltech is pretty good too.

  • Rick

    NYC would bring in more connections with NYC businesses. I see this as a good thing.