They must be popping champagne in Ithaca right now. Mere hours after Stanford dropped the bomb that it would be withdrawing its bid to build an engineering mecca on Roosevelt Island, Cornell just announced that it has received a $350 million anonymous donation in support of its applied science campus proposal.
Anonymous, hmm . . . Perhaps it’s someone with an extra $88 million lying around? “We’re not commenting!” is all Cornell offered by way of response.
In a statement, Cornell President David J. Skorton said:
“I am thankful and proud that this extraordinary individual gift will support Cornell’s goal to realize Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for New York City. He has inspired us all in the higher education sector. At Cornell, our entire community has come together, in a way that happens only so often in an institution’s history, with winning ideas, energy and the creativity that the Mayor’s challenge deserves.”
According to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources, part of Stanford’s motivation to pull out was a comment from Mayor Bloomberg during at speech at MIT when he called Stanford “desperate” to win the bid.
President Skorton alluded to Stanford’s decision, albeit obliquely:
“Cornell and the Technion are deeply committed to partnering with New York City to build the world’s leading campus dedicated to technology and enterprise. Our vision is to build a truly twenty-first century campus that will fuel the city’s growing tech sector and spur the creation of new businesses and new industries for decades to come. Our proposal for a multidisciplinary institution combining world class applied science research, entrepreneurship and commercialization will accelerate New York City’s transformation into a world leader in technology innovation. We look forward to continuing to discuss our proposal and our vision with the Bloomberg administration as the process moves forward.”
So was Cornell just sitting on this $350 million, waiting for the right moment to break the big news? Or is today just the best day Dr. Skorton’s life?