Stanford explores NYC engineering campus

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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.

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