Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering Proposal

October 27, 2011

Dear Fellow Member of the Columbia Community:

I am pleased to share with you the Executive Summary of a major proposal to be submitted tomorrow to the City of New York for a Columbia University Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering.  The proposal reflects the intensive work of Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora, many faculty of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and many others across Columbia, including Interim Provost John Coatsworth and a large number of the university’s talented staff.

Columbia is making this proposal in response to a request for proposals (RFP) announced by Mayor Bloomberg on July 19, 2011, in connection with his initiative to build or expand an engineering campus in New York City.  Mayor Bloomberg’s request spurred strong interest among a number of Columbia’s peer institutions, and there has been a considerable volume of newspaper coverage in recent weeks speculating about the various competing proposals seeking to be selected by the City.  This circulation of the Executive Summary marks the first time we have disclosed our plans.

For us, of course, this proposal is about enhancing the breadth of our enduring commitment to our home city and not about expansion to a new locale.  By employing each of the several distinctive advantages intrinsic to Columbia’s presence in New York City, our proposed Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering offers the surest opportunity for fulfilling the Mayor’s goal of spurring technology-driven economic development.  I encourage you to review the Executive Summary of the proposal.  I believe that it describes a thoughtful and innovative plan for building upon Columbia’s academic excellence, our tradition of public engagement, and our existing vision for long-term growth in upper Manhattan.

While the world-leading SEAS faculty is the driving force for developing and implementing Columbia’s vision, the distinctive power of our proposal is generated, in large measure, by its interdisciplinary orientation.  Indeed, Columbia’s plan expressly relies upon contributions from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia Business School, Columbia Journalism School, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

This is a bold and creative proposal that builds upon Columbia’s longstanding role in shaping the people and ideas that have driven New York City’s dynamic economic, civic, and cultural life.

I look forward to sharing more information about the proposed Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering in the weeks ahead.


Lee C. Bollinger