Friday, April 15, 2011

Update On Stanford University Proposed Plan for Applied Research & Engineering School on Roosevelt Island - Staten Island Remote, Governors Island Bad Infrastructure, B'klyn Navy Yard Industrial, Roosevelt Island Works Well

Here's an update on Stanford University's proposal to to build a state of the art engineering and applied research school at Roosevelt Island's Goldwater Hospital site. 

According to SF Gate:
Graduate students seeking a prestigious business or technology degree from Stanford University may no longer have to come only to Silicon Valley to get it - that is, if New York City officials select Stanford from 27 universities vying for the chance to build a campus there.

University President John Hennessey discussed details on Thursday of his proposal for a New York satellite campus that would offer graduate degrees in engineering, business and computer science....
Below are the prepared remarks of Stanford University President Hennessey regarding the proposed New York City Applied Sciences Research Center Campus on Roosevelt Island. He notes that Stanford is particularly interested in Roosevelt Island as the site for the campus but also says that other sites are being explored. In a panel discussion following President Hennessey's remarks. the Stanford Vice President for land, buildings and real estate Robert Reidy says of Roosevelt Island:
... “It is a special place in that is oddly a place apart to the city but closely adjacent,” Reidy said of the 10-acre Roosevelt Island location.

He added that the University was “quietly trying to pursue a Manhattan location” for an alternative site. The process of “comparing and contrasting opportunities” is important, Reidy said....
Here's an excerpt from President Hennessey's speech.
Expression of Interest: New York City Applied Sciences Research and Educational Campus

... As you have all heard, we are also exploring another opportunity, the possibility of establishing an engineering and technology research and graduate education campus in New York City.

In mid-December, New York City's Economic Development Corporation announced plans to attract an institution to create an applied sciences research and educational campus. New York's goals range from raising the capability of institutions in the city in technology and applied science to creating more talented graduates in these fields in support of a growing high-technology sector, to increasing economic growth and diversification through high-technology innovation and entrepreneurism. Stanford was one among 27 institutions that responded. Our interest has been informed by broad consultation over a series of months with the faculty, university leadership and trustees.

Like many other institutions, we have received many invitations to consider setting up campuses and programs throughout parts of the world, especially in Asia. While we are engaged as consultants and partners with a number of institutions around the world, we have so far chosen not to set up another full-fledged Stanford campus, primarily because we were concerned that we could not establish a permanent presence with a cohort of faculty and students whose quality matched that of our home campus.

New York is different: We can attract great faculty and great students committed to Stanford and a New York campus. Thus, we believe this is a great opportunity for us to team up with a dynamic partner, New York City, to create a high-quality institution, which could become the nucleus for a major center of innovation, just as has happened in the Bay Area. New York has its own culture and strengths, which are quite different from those of our present location, and fusing that culture with the technical capabilities and entrepreneurial culture of Stanford could produce a remarkable new center for research, education and innovation. Such a campus is also an opportunity to increase our visibility on the East Coast, and perhaps connect with new sources of philanthropic support.

A New York presence also provides us the opportunity to master multi-site operations – something I believe is essential for the 21st-century university. We already have a strong foundation in distance education, and this would enable us to further refine and expand that foundation. It offers a supportive setting for creating a world-class model for the multi-campus university: Setting up operations in the same country just three time zones away, where there are no issues about academic freedom, is much more manageable than establishing a campus in a different country six or eight time zones away.

Our plan is to create a strong research program, a vibrant graduate education program with both master's and PhD students that provides both technical education as well as education in entrepreneurial and innovation skills. Our engineering school is among the best in the country, and we are a leader in applied sciences. We have an incredible entrepreneurial culture, and we understand how to partner with industry and successfully transfer research advances to the marketplace. Stanford researchers and alumni have established thriving companies that employ thousands of people – companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Netflix, eBay and many others.

 Our plan would be to develop a New York program that is integrated with the programs on the main campus, distributing people and talent and sharing courses and research activities, rather than replicating existing activities at a smaller scale. Rather than have two computer science departments, for example, we envision one department with perhaps 25 percent of its faculty at the New York campus. The School of Engineering, the Graduate School of Business, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program would all play key roles from the beginning, with other activities added over time.

Of course, the site of the campus will be a critical component as well, and that has not yet been decided. In its Request for Expression of Interest, New York City suggested four potential sites. Of the four sites, we looked at Roosevelt Island in particular and considered how it might be developed, and Bob Reidy will talk about this in a few minutes. At the same time, we are exploring other sites as this process unfolds.

If we pursue this opportunity, it would develop in several phases. In Phase 1, the first five years of the project, we envision about 25 faculty, including visiting faculty from the Palo Alto campus; 150 doctoral students; and 300 master's students. The focus of the first phase would be on information technology – EE and CS – with special attention given to entrepreneurship education and research. Executive education both in technical fields and in management would also be featured. As we plan the first phase and contemplate a formal proposal, I have asked Dean Plummer [of the School of Engineering] and Dean Saloner [of the Graduate School of Business] to appoint a faculty advisory committee to provide guidance and counsel.

Succeeding phases would expand to include approximately 100 faculty and 2,000 students. There would also be opportunities to take advantage of all that New York City offers, especially in new media and cultural opportunities, and I can see broadening the base of subjects offered to include green technology, biomedical engineering, new media, financial mathematics and urban studies, just to name a few. There would also be opportunities to host other visiting undergraduate and graduate programs: perhaps an academic quarter in New York, similar to our Stanford in Washington program, as well as opportunities to host students in the business school or other disciplines. The succeeding phases would develop over as long as 20 years, allowing for extensive exploration of opportunities as we gain capability in making a distributed program work.

We are at the beginning of a very long process, and we are not alone in recognizing the opportunities in New York. Eighteen proposals were submitted by 27 schools and include responses by Cornell University, Columbia University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon and several international institutions. Final proposals will be due in the summer, with selection by the end of the year....
The full text of Stanford President Hennessy's address to the Academic Council is here. 

The Stanford Daily reported on President Hennessey's speech and the panel discussion afterward:
...  Hennessy’s address was followed by a panel featuring School of Engineering Dean Jim Plummer, Computer Science Chair Jennifer Widom and Robert Reidy, vice president for land, buildings and real estate.

According to Plummer, there are three questions to address at present: whether a 21st century university can have multiple locations, whether telepresence systems work well enough and whether Stanford’ entrepreneurial spirit can be replicated elsewhere.

There is one challenge, however, that seems to take precedence.

“The biggest part will be making the New York campus look, feel and be part of us,” Plummer said.

Widom noted that it would take her department “a while to ramp up” for the transition to NYC, especially with respect to hiring additional faculty members. She said the computer science department “will not lower its threshold to hire faculty” for the Big Apple center and that many CS professors have expressed interest in teaching there.

Reidy took the Academic Council on a “visual journey” of the potential Roosevelt Island site for the NYC campus. The other sites offered by the city of New York were located in Staten Island, Governors Island and the Brooklyn Naval Yard.

“It is a special place in that is oddly a place apart to the city but closely adjacent,” Reidy said of the 10-acre Roosevelt Island location.

He added that the University was “quietly trying to pursue a Manhattan location” for an alternative site. The process of “comparing and contrasting opportunities” is important, Reidy said.

According to Hennessy, the opportunity to try to recreate Silicon Valley in New York is one that cannot be passed up.

“New York is the cultural capital of the United States,” he said. But there’s more to the city, too.

“As a native New Yorker, I’m looking forward to the pizza,” Hennessy added.
The Stanford Review Blog adds:
... Vice President for Land, Buildings, Real Estate Robert Reidy offered a more detailed view of how a campus in New York might actually look. First, he briefly outlined why Stanford preferred a Roosevelt Island out of four possible sites: Staten Island, Governors Island, Brooklyn Naval Yard, and Roosevelt Island. Staten Island was remote, Governors Island has bad infrastructure, and the Brooklyn site was industrial zoned, but the Roosevelt site worked well, since it was close to both Manhattan (center of NYC) and Queens (place for cheap expansion and start-ups).

Roosevelt Island would have a 10 acre site in close proximity to Manhattan, with the Queensboro Bridge going over it. It has good subway connection and an interesting tram system, but poor car access.

What would the actual island look like? Ultimately, there would be two 20-story housing facilities, one at either end of the campus, as well as academic buildings surrounding a green. The academic facilities might reach eight or so stories in order to capitalize on the space.

When faced with a question about whether this was the best use of Stanford’s resources, President Hennessy stated that the city has indicated it would make a commitment, so we could mobilize extra resources. However, this project cannot not be achieved without significant new fund-raising. If Stanford can’t attract new philanthropic support (such as from New Yorkers and New York-based donors), this expansion cannot occur.

Why New York? New York is the cultural/media capital of the US. We can fuse NY’s “new style” ideas with our strength in new technology....
... Ellie Titus ’11, former Stanford Daily editor-in-chief asked about what other, non-financial challenges Stanford might face in setting up this campus, especially political. The direct response was that Stanford needs vested rights before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office in 2013 or else the deal will likely fall through. Stanford has at least received assurances that this will be a merit-based process, not a political boondoggle, so that is why Stanford remains involved.
Perhaps Stanford would consider the proposed Trilogy skyscraper project, lovingly referred to as the Roosevelt Island Tower of Death by our friends at Curbed, that was developed by some Italian students as part of it's campus on Roosevelt Island. Though only an academic study, the Trilogy skyscraper included a pedestrian bridge from Southpoint Park over the East River to Manhattan. Watch the video and see for yourself. Pretty Cool!

Or maybe this pedestrian bridge from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan that was proposed by Hunter College Students (Page 63 of Roosevelt Island Accessibility Study) could be considered by Stanford?

 Just kidding, but ....

The Roosevelt Island community is obviously very excited over the possibility of being the site of a world class engineering and applied science center such as the one proposed by Stanford and desires to be part of the process in bringing the project to fruition.  The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) sent the following letter to NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) expressing that view
Rioc Letter to Nycedc

and the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) sent a similar letter to those interested academic institutions and the NYEDC. 
Goldwater Site Development RIRA Letter

I am advised by RIRA representative Denise Shull that:

I received reply emails from Stanford, and NYEDC saying they were very glad to receive the letter and basically feel free to comment, question etc over the process.
Here's what the pathway in front of the Goldwater Hospital Campus 

and possible future home to Stanford University

looked like yesterday

with the beautiful Roosevelt Island Cherry Trees blossoms.

More information on the proposed Stanford Campus and New York City's plans for an applied research and engineering school at these prior posts.

UPDATE 6:25 PM - Video of Stanford's presentation on proposed Roosevelt Island campus is now available here.


D.Evans said...

Exciting (and perhaps trying)times are ahead of us as we begin to digest the implications of a massive potential project on the Island. A kudo is extended to RIOC in leaning forward to help ensure we become more than just a considered candidate but also for beginning to think of what it all could mean for a potentially "new" Roosevelt Island. Further, the Katz/Shull letter was well done and timely in advancing the interest of the RIRA-Common Council, championing the idea that Island residents have opportunity to provide inputs to what, if it goes, will be a transformative project. Thus, on this one, prudency should necessitate RIOC and RIRA close interaction.

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