President Hennessy and Professor Bernd Girod describe opportunities and challenges of StanfordNYC to Faculty Senate

President John Hennessy gave the senate an update on the university's proposal to open an applied sciences campus in New York City, a proposal due Oct. 28. Electrical Engineering Professor Bernd Girod outlined the work of a faculty committee formed last summer to advise the university on its bid.

L.A. Cicero President Hennessy speaking to the Faculty Senate

In his presentation to the Faculty Senate, President John Hennessy described a campus on Roosevelt Island with clusters of academic and residential buildings and open space.

President John Hennessy told the Faculty Senate Thursday that establishing an applied sciences campus in New York City would answer a critical U.S. need – to create a second major innovation center in science and technology in the country.

"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," Hennessy said at the start of his presentation on Stanford's proposal to build a graduate campus in New York City focused on engineering, information technology and entrepreneurship.

Bernd Girod, a professor of electrical engineering, also spoke to the senate yesterday, presenting a report on the work of a faculty committee that has been advising Stanford on its bid.

Girod said faculty surveys conducted last summer within the School of Engineering and the Graduate School of Business showed broad support for a campus in New York City.

He said the committee, which met every two to three weeks over the summer, received 12 "pre-proposals" from more than 75 faculty members for research and teaching programs, including programs in sustainable urban systems, financial mathematics and engineering, and neuro-engineering.

The committee's recommendation that Stanford get an "early start" by finding temporary space in New York City to launch its program in September 2012, led to the recently announced agreement with City College of New York.

Girod said one principle the committee embraced that he couldn't emphasize too much was "two campuses, one university."

"We're only going to be successful in doing this if we have the same world-class students that come to Stanford New York City that we have here, that we have the same faculty who are leaders in their field that work here," Girod said.

"This is something that others who have tried to set up satellite campuses have not achieved. This is absolutely what we must aim for. There is no alternative to that. We need to build this with seamless extensions of the existing departments that are involved in the fields that will be present in New York City. A computer science department would straddle the two coasts; there's not going to be a separate department there. We have to use the same admissions processes, the same degree programs and award the same degrees."

In order to achieve "two campuses, one university," Stanford will have to leverage distance learning and telepresence technologies extensively, Girod said.

Following their presentations, Hennessy and Girod fielded questions from senators on a wide range of topics, including whether advanced undergraduate students would have opportunities to study on the New York City campus; whether Stanford had assessed the financial and political risks of the project; and whether increasing the population of graduate students would change the nature of Stanford as an institution that balances undergraduate and graduate education.

Eric Roberts, the Charles Simonyi Professor in the School of Engineering, thanked Hennessy and Girod for the "really hard work" of the university and the faculty committee, saying they had answered many questions on the minds of faculty.

"I think the excitement will be contagious," Roberts said. "I'm excited. I think there's a lot to look forward to."

Ramón Saldívar, the Hoagland Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, agreed, saying the proposal was "tremendous, wonderful and exciting."

During his presentation, Hennessy said a New York campus would enhance Stanford's profile and influence, allow the university to recruit faculty who would like to live on the East Coast, and give Stanford the chance to master the technology required to run two campuses located 3,000 miles apart.

"We are going to make large, large investments in technology to make this work," he said. "The good news is that technology has gotten to a price where it's reasonably affordable. We can easily run 10 full-bandwidth high-definition streams between the two campuses simultaneously – at easily affordable prices. We'll be able to do some things and really try to take that technology to the next level."

Hennessy said Stanford has been "moving at light speed" to complete its proposal since the New York City Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals in late July. The proposal, which is due Oct. 28, will be 500 to 600 pages long, he said. New York City, which is offering city-owned land for the campus, has said it expects to make a decision by the end of this year.

Stanford is proposing to build a campus on a 10-acre site on Roosevelt Island, a narrow island located on the East River. Hennessy described a campus with clusters of academic and residential buildings and open space.

"One of the great advantages of this location is you can build a campus," Hennessy said. "We have studied other locations in Manhattan, but the minute you move to Manhattan what you're going to end up with is one, or possibly two, high-rise buildings. Here we have a lot of open space."

The campus would include housing, classrooms, labs, offices, business incubator space, amenities – such as fitness centers, shops and restaurants – and open space, and just beyond the campus, two parks – Southpoint Park and Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.

He said the New York City campus, when completed, would have 1.1 million square feet of academic space; 575,000 square feet of housing; 175,000 square feet of amenities; and 50,000 square feet for incubating new businesses.

The campus would grow in phases – from 2016 to 2038 – to eventually accommodate 100 faculty members and 2,000 master's and PhD students.

Hennessy said the project will need a significant amount of fundraising.

"We will have to do most of that fundraising in New York City," he said. "So having enthusiasm for the project coming from people in the city is absolutely crucial. The view is that the city has that potential to do it. They just raised $180 million for the Met in New York City, which is an amazing amount of money."

Hennessy said Stanford will use the $100 million New York City has promised to the winning university to prepare and upgrade the site.

He said construction costs are likely to range from $1 billion to $2 billion.

In the long term, Hennessy said, the goal is to create a self-sustaining campus in New York City. He said Stanford must build an endowment for the campus, and that Stanford would provide a matching endowment.

Minutes available next week

The full minutes of the Oct. 13 meeting, including the questions and answers that followed each presentation, will be available on the Faculty Senate website next week.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27.