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Stanford Report, April 23, 2003

Philanthropist and scholar George Kozmetsky makes $6 million gift to Stanford


George and Ronya Kozmetsky have donated $6 million to Stanford to establish the Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory, a joint project with the University of Texas at Austin that will seek new ways to use technology to enhance shared global prosperity, Provost John Etchemendy announced April 22.

Stanford's Department of Communication and Media X will collaborate with the University of Texas's Institute for Innovation, Creativity and Capital (IC2) to further George Kozmetsky's interest in the relationship between technology and capitalism to create wealth.

"The purpose is to learn how to use capitalism better, to increase the production of wealth at home and abroad to give more people opportunities to participate in economies that support stable and civil societies," Alex Cavalli, deputy director of IC2, said during a formal announcement of the gift on campus.

Kozmetsky, former dean of the University of Texas's business school, founded IC2 a quarter-century ago. In 1960, Kozmetsky co-founded the California defense electronics firm Teledyne Inc., and he helped lay the groundwork for Austin's high-tech boom in the 1990s.

Etchemendy said researchers at Stanford and Texas are at the cutting edge of applying technology to the ways people exchange information and learn. As a result, he continued, they are well positioned to undertake projects involved with the development of interactive technology for education and the training of entrepreneurs, design of sustainable ventures and the study of knowledge, beliefs and institutions responsible for economic development.

"Not since the printed book fundamentally altered the transmission of knowledge have we had as compelling an opportunity to disperse knowledge more widely," Etchemendy said. "How do we apply the most powerful and malleable technologies ever invented to the most important task we humans undertake: passing our accumulated knowledge on to the next generation?" Etchemendy said the answer lies in exploration and experiment -- in research the new venture will support.

Sharon Long, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, said much remains to be understood about how technology works for diverse groups of people in different circumstances. "The Kozmetsky partnership will create the opportunity for breakthroughs in our understanding of interactive technology, which may be important for education, for economic innovation and for effective social institutions," she said.

The Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory will be co-directed by communication Professor Clifford Nass and Syed Shariq, who will be named a senior research scholar in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Shariq said the project is inspired by Kozmetsky's fundamental concern for the world's future. "George said, in the 21st century, the Third World War and the last world war will happen unless we address basic inequalities in society," he said. "Let's try to create a world where we can bring together methodology and problem-solving capability to create shared global prosperity."

In addition to endowing Shariq's position, funding will support the Real Time Venture Design Laboratory (ReVeL) in the Department of Communication. According to Nass, ReVeL will conduct research on how technology can be used to create business ventures rapidly, particularly in developing countries.

Kozmetsky's gift will support the Interactive Media Collaboratory (IMC) in Media X, an initiative that will take the best technology used in the entertainment gaming industry and study how it can be most effectively applied to learning and research. Communication Professor Byron Reeves, director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information, will direct IMC, with Nass and education Professor Roy Pea co-leading the project. Reeves said part of the funding will support a national "gaming and learning" conference to be held on campus in September that will bring together developers of games and people working in educational applications of technology. The Kozmetsky gift also will be used to construct a two-story office building next to Cordura and Ventura halls to house the ReVeL project and IMC, Nass said.