Bloomberg taps Cornell after Stanford withdraws

Bid to build science. technology campus in Big Apple had been priority for Stanford brass

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today (Monday, Dec. 19) named Cornell University the winner in a competition to partner with the city in building a science and technology campus in the Big Apple.

In a surprise announcement Friday, Stanford University abruptly withdrew its application to construct a 10-acre applied science and engineering campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island.

Stanford had been a top contender in the competition for city-owned land and up to $100 million in funding to spark a Silicon Valley-style tech innovation hub in New York.

Blooomberg said applications the city received from universities around the world "were much more than we had hoped for," and he expects the Cornell undertaking, in partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will be a "game changer" that will "prime the economic pump for years to come."

The mayor said he remains in talks with runners-up Columbia, Carnegie-Mellon and New York universities for ways they can collaborate on the science and technology project.

Stanford said Friday that after weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders -- including the board of trustees -- "have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity."

Stanford's ambitious proposal, dubbed "StanfordNYC" involved a university commitment over 30 years of $2.5 billion to create a 1.9 million-square-foot science and engineering campus, with 100 faculty members and 2,000 masters and PhD students.

The bid has monopolized the attention of top university officials, including Stanford President John Hennessy, for much of this year. Stanford marshaled the support of former students including Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to argue that the university fosters a unique "culture of entrepreneurship" and would be a good fit for New York.

Hennessy has said the New York City venture would be a model for the "massive transformation" that is occurring in higher education and industry, creating globally distributed institutions made possible by technology.

StanfordNYC would fill a critical need for the United States by establishing a second major science and technology innovation center, he said at the time the university's bid was submitted in October.

"Quite frankly, Silicon Valley has done terrific but if the country is going to maintain its leadership in this area it needs more than Silicon Valley," he said at the time.

But Friday Hennessy said, "... We are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals.

In the end, he said, the university could not be sure it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus.

"I applaud the mayor's bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into reality," he said.

Hennessy said Stanford will continue to explore expansion opportunities in the future.

"Great universities need to continue to take risks, to innovate and to explore new opportunities where we can make contributions to support economic growth and expanding knowledge," he said.

Chris Kenrick


Posted by George, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Why is this a "surprise"? Hennessy was quoted in the Mercury News saying that Stanford would abandon the project if New York would not guaranteed that it could build what it "needs".

Apparently, the politics of New York land-use plans and permits isn't as predictable as here in Santa Clara County. Stanford may not always get what it "needs".

Web Link
"... and the politics of New York City land-use plans and permits are "an order of magnitude" more daunting and unpredictable as those in Santa Clara County.

Hennessy agreed and said that unless Stanford can be guaranteed that it can build what it needs to build, plans will be abandoned."

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

This is an unexpected development around a complex and complicated concept. I have had a skepticism about it since it was launched, and I think Stanford is better off in discontinuing its effort.

There is a huge amount of money, mainly from Wall Street, that finances projects and companies that keep the likes of Goldman Sachs at the forefront of technologies that help them do what they do. I do not perceive them as having an interest in engaging with start ups and new ideas if they do not serve their immediate commercial interests. Of course, they will be happy to be there to work on IPO's.

The Media are huge in NYC, and actually lend themselves to a NYC technology oriented campus as a source of learning and experimentation. I do not know how it compares with the Southern California Media, but I suspect they are more similar than different.

Other cutting edge disciplines, especially in Biotech and its related disciplines, are largely found outside of NYC. Harvard does a great deal of work in Boston, and it really is unsurpassed in the SF Bay Area, thanks to UCSF and Stanford.

So, with my understanding, I am of the opinion that the proposed NYC campus had some limitations from a research, teachinig and learning standpoint.

There are a couple of other thoughts I have beyond what I mention above. It has to do with major schools opening up satellite campuses away from their main center of operation.

There appear to be more and more universities that are doing this. Penn's Wharton School has a place now along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Carnegie Mellon has a venue in Mtn. View. There are other examples.

I believe that such campuses get the "brand" but little more from the parent campus. Attending a college or graduate school the likes of Stanford includes becoming part of a culture that can last a lifetime. Even if some first rate instructors are there for the classes, it is not the same for students or professors compared with the environment offered at the base campus.

This trend is becoming increasingly common. One of my kids spent a college semester in China, at a school that was "sponsored" by her home school. The difference is that she was there under her colleges auspices, attending the Chinese college for a period of time.

I don't think our higher education leadership has this figured out. I suppose I could offer my services to assist them in doing so, it could be a great gig, and I don't have a campus, just my office.

Posted by Cornell alum, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Meanwhile, Cornell just received a $350,000,000 gift towards building their bid. Cornell already has a medical school in NYC, so some faculty members are used to moving back and forth.

Web Link

I wasn't aware that Stanford and Cornell have worked together in some way on a technical campus in Israel.

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

It sounds like New York City started to put its hooks into Stanford and demand more and more. Or maybe it started to renege on its promises. The Leland Stanford Jr. Farm was wise to cut things off.

PS Read the New York Times article on Stanford's withdrawal--it's really a snide little hit piece!

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

"Attending a college or graduate school the likes of Stanford includes becoming part of a culture that can last a lifetime."

Paul Losch, you unintentionally provided the best reason to avoid the 'base' campus: Our kids need no longer be propagandized by the leftist professors and dorm leaders and activist socialist student goons, who try to dominate the campus life at the 'base' campus. Maybe your/our kids can live at home/near home, and just attend the satellite campus...much less costly, and the kids will not be twisted and coerced into accepting the leftist koolaid.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Oh come on Gary.

First of all, the proposed Stanford in NYC was largely intended for graduate and higher programs. It would have had a totally different personality than Stanford here, and no matter what happens with that NYC concept, it would be the same. Cornell and Columbia, possibly NYU, could be exceptions, because they already of part of the footprint and culture there.

With all due respect, you come across to me as having a narrow view of a college or university experience. Has my daughter gotten fed "leftist" views at her small New England college in her Mandarin classes? No. She has mastered a language that is an important component of her generation and I hope her future career op tions. I use this anecdotally, but I think it makes the point that campuses are not full of leftists and that instructors are all preaching "leftist" propoganda, whatever that means in this day and age.

My comment reflected the most important point: namely, there is an entire socialization aspect to attending a place like Stanford that cannot happen at a satellite campus, be it in New York City or elsewhere. Not everyone has the opportunity to affiliate with the likes of the "Farm." I am merely of the opinion that the great colleges and universities we have in this country need to keep focused on bettering what they do, where they are based.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

"you come across to me as having a narrow view of a college or university experience"

Paul, did you daughter ever encounter a professor at her college that supported the notion that the Second Ammedment is an individual right, not a state right? Did she ever hear the words "Tenth Ammendment"? Were property rights ever a matter of general discussion in her classes or her dorm? Was the victory over socialism in the cold war ever celebrated? How about the liberation of Iraq? How about Tiananmen Square (surely something she should have been critically versed on, if she was going to China!)?

No, Paul, I am not narrow...I fully understand the leftist agenda. Do you?

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm


Are you for real? I'm a Stanford grad, and the notion that the Farm is a leftist hotbed is, to put it mildly, absurd. Have you heard of the Hoover Institution? Condoleeza Rice? Do you think that these youngsters who are so accomplished before they enter Stanford will really become members of a hotbed of radical revolution?

Time for you to head off to a Rand Paul or Michelle Bachmann celebration and celebrate with your political kindred, and leave Stanford alone.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

"the notion that the Farm is a leftist hotbed is, to put it mildly, absurd."

The SDS used to organize freshman orientation at Stanford. Bruce Franklin was the toast of the leftist professors and dorm advvisors. They were, eventually, defeated by events. Time has moved on, but I would ask you the same questions that I asked Paul...answer them in terms of Stanford, today. Is Barton Bernstein still being celebrated in the history dept? Is Paul Ehrlich still propagandizing in the biolgy dept.? Is ROTC back on campus (since it was torched out, decades ago)? Was the Reagan Library rejected by leftist professors (especially in the English dept.)? The Hoover Inst. is an island of sanity in the midst of an irrational, leftist sea.

Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Gary, FYI:

Web Link

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm


I an quite aware that the Stanford faculty has, very timidly, approved of ROTC coming back to Stanford, after is was attacked by leftist terrorists, in the late 60s. However, it won't be a done deal until it actually returns. To wit:

"The Stanford resolution approved Thursday would require close oversight by the university of ROTC courses as well as an effort to have the classes, which include military history and leadership training, open to all Stanford students, not just those in the program. Military and ROTC officials said they were unsure whether those issues could delay the program's return." (LA Times article).

Please advise, when ROTC is back on campus.

Posted by NewYork didnt drink koolaid, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Maybe Stanford found it couldn't push New York around the way it does Palo Alto. Maybe they couldn't round up people whose relatives were cured at the hospital to shed tears in front of the city.
Palo Altans treat Stanford like it was God. Perhaps New York has a broader view.

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 18, 2011 at 11:32 am

Gary, you've shown me the error of my ways. I did hear Barton Bernstein speak once, and I've read some of Paul Erlich's work. Clearly, I've been transformed by leftist propaganda into a fuzzy-thinking liberal, who just can't compare with your brilliant, careful, and insightful self.
Thanks for affixing the proper labels to Stanford, that den of iniquity we once thought we could admire.

New York admirer, it's shocking the way this area virtually worships the Farm. Turning down its trail plan, making unreasonable demands on the Stanford Hospital expansion; I guess those events didn't actually happen. Anyway, who would want to live in such a vapid place as Palo Alto when New York is the best-run city in the world, free from corruption, reasonable in its dealings with its citizens, and not at all greedy when it pulls a bait and switch on a major university.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Retired teacher,

Bernstein made his reputation by stating that the atomic bombs did not need to be used against Japan, to end the war; a full out invasion would have cost fewer lives...or Japan was on the edge of giving up anyway. Were you at that lecture? No serious historian agrees with him, because it is not true. Ehlich's population bomb never exploded, with massive famines, like he insisted it would.

Leftist propaganda is not what a Liberal education should be about. You can sit in a class at Stanford, and never be challenged by the truth. It is not the errors of your ways, probably, but it is an error by Stanford that you never heard a counter opinion on what you were being fed. You should have insisted on it, if you actually taught any of the next generation.

Posted by Does not exist, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

Gary of Downtown North,
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Gee, Paul Erlich made a mistake? Unlike your hero W, who was not able to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Barton Bernstein is certainly a leftist, you got one thing right. Still, he does do historical research that is rigorous enough that his peers consider him a reputable scholar.

By the way, now that you've dragged a red herring, so to speak, across the trail, what is your carefully considered opinion on Stanford's withdrawal from the New York City contest? Or is New York City so far to the left that there's nothing worth mentioning?

Posted by Cornell alum, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

Mayor Bloomberg will be announcing the winning bidder today.

Cornell is going to be broadcasting via Facebook at 11:30 AM PST.
Web Link

Love the WSJ's take on the pending announcement..

"When Stanford withdrew from the competition, several people familiar with the negotiations said the university preferred to quit than lose. Stanford officials saw the "writing on the wall," said one person familiar with the negotiations."

Web Link

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

Cornell alum:

It does seem that Cornell is a far better fit for NYC than Stanford, and they deserve congratulations if they win the bid, as expected.

On the other hand, the WSJ is engaging in the same sort of snideness that the NYT indulged in in its reporting of Stanford's withdrawal. If Stanford had "won" the competition, it may well have ended up losing a goodly chunk of money, even greater than the million it blew on the application already.

Two interesting articles on related issues:

O'Brien in the Merc News: Web Link

and the development morass in NYC, from the New York Times: Web Link

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

Retired Teacher,

I don't mind that leftist professors are at Stanford. But they need to be balanced off with an even greater number of right-wing professors. Where are the Prof. Horns at today's Stanford? Most Stanford students have probably never had a serious discussion of realpolitik, private property rights, public takings, capitalist creative destruction, anti-socialist liberations, etc.

I am glad to see Stanford pulling out of the NYC deal...too much money for too little leverage, and even more leftist influence.

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I'm glad to hear you make a comment on the central issue of this story. We do agree on the benefits of the Stanford pullout, but for different reasons. Cf the two web links from my previous post.

I'm also glad to hear that you don't mind leftist professors at Stanford. Sounded like you had stereotyped the university because of a few people you didn't agree with. Robert Horn was by all accounts a fine teacher and a thoughtful scholar. But I would not want to send my kids to a school where there were quotas for right and left-wing professors. I'd want the very best scholars Stanford could hire, and that's what we think we had when we sent one of our daughters there in the late 80's. And that's what we had when we went there as well.

I think current Stanford students, like my daughter's generation and my generation, can listen to different opinions, do their own research, and make their own reasoned judgments.

Posted by Crony capitalism doesn't work (if you're not a crony)), a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm

"But they need to be balanced off with an even greater number of right-wing professors."
Rightwing math. (I'm sure they don't teach THAT at Stanford!)

Anything that isn't lock-step rightwing permanent majority, with your narrow litmus test, is a leftist plot, eh? By your reckoning, General Eisenhower (Republican) was a Commie PInko, what with his 90% marginal tax rates on the richest to keep debt and deficit low, and all that redistribution of wealth to the middle class, what with paying for nearly everyone's college education through the GI bill and the middle class seeing a 25% increase in income.

Why would you need to impose this at Stanford, Gary, or, just like Communist true believers, you think your ideology doesn't really work unless it is imposed with that illusive purity? Shouldn't the marketplace of ideas be given a chance? Why can't you see that your guy, Bush, was the nearly perfect embodiment of your ideals? You've had your shot at our country and it's crippled it. (And if we had learned the lessons of history in the '20s and '30s, we could have seen it coming.)

The "left" isn't communists anymore, at least not in this country nor all the other wealthiest nations, they're PRAGMATISTS. Your hatred and weird convoluted ideas about anyone not in lock step with your ideology would be funny if it wasn't so destructive.

Where else on earth is this ideology in play? Far more in places like Afghanistan and Somalia than wealthy nations like Sweden or Denmark.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Congrats to Cornell, well done.
Who cares about Stanford.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

"I would not want to send my kids to a school where there were quotas for right and left-wing professors."

Retired Teacher,

If you sent your daughter to Stanford in recent decades, you did exactly that! Name a couple of right wing profs, of influence, at Stanford when she went to school there. Did your daughter, while at Stanford, ever have a critical discussion with you about private property rights? Realpolitik? Nuclear energy? Socialist slavery? Stanford has been a leftist plantation for decades. The only exception is the Hoover Inst., but they are too intelligent and savvy to be granted tenure at Stanford.

Posted by snodfart gets Bronx cheer, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Whaddya expect? Stanford deluded itself into thinking ex Trammell Crow Texans and ex Florida speculators could staff and re invent Stanford RE dept into a force that would cause governments near and far to just roll out the Cardinal Carpet.
Except Big Red Cornell got the Technion team from Israel and $350MMM alum gift to make Snodfart look like some arrogant party crasher that thinks Gracie Mansion can be bought cheap!

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Gary, you sound like a broken record. Your right-wing rhetoric just isn't convincing. I'm just not interested in monitoring Stanford to be sure they meet some cockamamie quota for ultra-conservative ideologues! And if you think your agenda for family discussions is some sort of ideal. think again. When my daughter's classmates came over, we covered a much wider range of topics than your narrow little list.

Anonymous, I second congratulations to Cornell. I'll leave you to spend a lot of time caring about the school far above Cayuga's waters.

Online Staff, I'll be darned if I can understand your criteria for removing posts. Why was the first part of my post above not fair comment? But it's ok for Crony capitalism to call Gary's position one of "hatred?' Do your censors get any training on free speech criteria?

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 20, 2011 at 11:14 am


Sounds like someone is jealous of a top-ranked university. There's nothing wrong with attending Cornell; it's accredited and has a good view of the ice and snow in the winter. It even outranks that Berkeley school across the Bay in the all-seeing reviews of US News. No need to be defensive.

As for Gracie Mansion, Stanford probably would love an old house overlooking Hell Gate. Alas, only Roosevelt Island was on offer, and the terms just weren't that good.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm

" I'm just not interested in monitoring Stanford "

Retired Teacher,

That is very obvious. Begs the question, though: How can you presume to make judgements about Stanford and the political biases that it exposes students to?

Come on, tell the could not have been a teacher, right? A good teacher is willing to do his/her homework!

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Gosh, Gary, you eliminated a very important part of my statement. Didn't you read the part about the cockamamie quota of ultra-conservative ideologues? That's what I don't want to monitor! That's you, Gary!

Stanford puts a lot of different ideas out there. If you had your way, they evidently wouldn't be allowed to do that.

Good teaching is good teaching, Gary. It's not indoctrinating, the way you seem to want it to be. Right wing indoctrinating, that's what you want. The only left wing bias at Stanford is in your mind.

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