Stanford Pulls Out of Plans for NYC Campus

To the relief of many of the leading business schools on the east coast, Stanford University today (Dec. 16) pulled out of an ongoing competition to create a satellite campus in New York City.

Stanford, which had been in intense negotiations with New York for weeks, had planned to first offer an MBA if it gained approval from city officials. The initial idea was that the Stanford campus would start small, with 20 to 25 faculty members from the Graduate School of Business, the design school and the entrepreneurship center at the school of engineering, but ultimately it was to have as many as 100 professors there.

“After several weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders and the Stanford Board of Trustees have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity,” Stanford said in a statement on Friday.

That’s particularly good news for Columbia Business School, Harvard Business School, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and New York University’s Stern School of Business. A Stanford-branded MBA in New York would have offered significant competition to those four programs in particular but also Cornell and MIT.

Stanford announcement came as a surprise. The university reportedly had spent more than a million dollars preparing its bid and had undertaken a very visible political-style campaign to build public support for its bid.

Stanford had said it would raise $1.5-billion to develop the new campus and, like four other finalists, had begun negotiations with the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Stanford President, John L. Hennessy said he had withdrawn from the competition because the school believed it would not be able to proceed in a way that would guarantee success for the campus.

“We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the City of New York, and we are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals,” said Mr. Hennessy in a written statement.

Sources told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Stanford had walked away because it believed city officials were trying to impose new conditions—and additional costs.

Stanford’s withdrawal seems to pave the way for an alternative plan from Cornell University, which has proposed a partnership campus with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. That plan envisions an industry-focused research-and-teaching venture on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. The winner is expected to be announced in January.

The entire process began a year ago last December when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited universities worldwide to submit proposals for applied science and engineering campuses that would help “diversify the city’s economy and boost the growing technology sector.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation had initially received 18 proposals from 27 universities, including Cornell, Columbia, and schools in India, Finland and South Korea. The University of Chicago submitted an expression of interest in the program as well but this summer Chicago officials “determined that the program did not fit the University’s needs, and the University of Chicago did not submit a proposal,” according to a spokesperson.

Only Cornell and the Technion are now vying for the 10-acre site on Roosevelt Island.


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