Cornell Tech

  • Education
  • 2011

When New York City launched a competition to create a great technical college and business incubator from scratch on Roosevelt Island, right next to Manhattan, many of the world’s leading universities leapt to submit proposals and funding plans. Cornell, Stanford, Columbia, and others jockeyed for approval to build a $2 billion campus. At the last moment, Cornell announced a $350 million philanthropic contribution—the largest in its history—to clinch the win. The donor turned out to be Chuck Feeney, a Cornell graduate whose total giving to the school thereby reached a billion dollars. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create economic and educational opportunity on a transformational scale,” explained Feeney in a statement. Two years later, Irwin and Joan Jacobs, both also Cornell alums, made their own $133 million gift to what is now known as Cornell Tech. Then Michael Bloomberg donated $100 million, lauding the project’s potential for diversifying his city’s finance-heavy economy. In 2015, ground was broken for the first buildings of what could become a research and business juggernaut that does for New York what Stanford did for the Bay Area and MIT did for Boston.