Daniel Huttenlocher Named Head of New Cornell Tech Campus

By Mary Johnson | February 16, 2012 1:58pm
Daniel P. Huttenlocher, a Cornell University professor, has been chosen as the founding dean of the city's new technology graduate campus.
Daniel P. Huttenlocher, a Cornell University professor, has been chosen as the founding dean of the city's new technology graduate campus.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

FLATIRON — Cornell University Professor Daniel P. Huttenlocher will serve as the founding dean of the city’s expansive new Cornell technology graduate school on Roosevelt Island, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.  

Joining Huttenlocher on the campus leadership team will be the school’s new vice president, Cathy Dove, who is an associate dean in Cornell’s college of engineering. Craig Gotsman will serve as the founding director of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, an arm of the new school that will operate through a partnership with the Israeli heavyweight Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

"The tech campus will help us attract and develop more talent to energize our growing tech sector," Bloomberg said. "Their leadership going forward really will be critical to the growth of our city’s applied science field and to the economic activity we expect it to generate."

In December, Cornell won a fiercely fought competition among several other top universities to get $100 million from the city to open a state-of-the-art engineering and applied science graduate campus.

The university teamed up with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in its push to build an expansive, 2 million-square-foot, $2 billion campus on Roosevelt Island that will eventually house 2,500 students and nearly 300 faculty members.

Construction isn’t set to begin until 2015, with an official opening date tentatively scheduled for 2017. But that doesn’t mean eager students will have to wait to enroll. Classes will begin at the new school this September in rented space the school is still hunting for, Huttenlocher said at Thursday's announcement inside the New York City headquarters of Tumblr, a microblogging platform.

Huttenlocher, who currently serves as Cornell's dean of computing and information sciences, said he has already received inquiries about possible faculty positions, even though the positions have not been formally announced.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to build a new kind of university campus, focused on technology commercialization rooted in the very best academic research," Huttenlocher said.

"It’s a startup within a university."

Huttenlocher has been a member of the Cornell faculty since 1988 and has taught in both the computer science department and the school’s MBA program. He has also spent ample time outside the classroom, working at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and as chief technology officer for Image Understanding Group, a small financial technologies firm.

Dove, a Cornell alumna who recently moved to Roosevelt Island, has also straddled the academic and business worlds throughout her career. In addition to her work as associate dean of Cornell’s college of engineering, she has worked as a financial analyst for Eli Lilly and as assistant town manager for Arlington, Mass.

At Thursday’s announcement, Bloomberg explained that construction and operation of the new technology campus should generate some 28,000 new jobs, and the school is expected to churn out roughly 600 new companies over the next three decades.

"It is our hope and expectation that these new companies will join the Tumblrs and the Foursquares of our city, bolstering our reputation as a center of innovation and propelling us past Silicon Valley as the capital of digital technology," Bloomberg said.

The new campus represents a large piece of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to have New York surpass California as the country's technology hub. Pointing to a homegrown success story, the mayor took time to laud the efforts of Tumblr, which started in New York City in 2007 with just two employees.

Now, the company has a sprawling office in the Flatiron district and a staff of more than 80, said David Karp, Tumblr's 25-year-old CEO.

As part of New York City’s commitment to technological advancement, Bloomberg also announced Thursday that the city is launching four new digital media channels to distribute information, with government handles now available on Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr and Twitter.

The new social media accounts are meant to streamline the flow of information from government agencies and to expand their reach in a city that Bloomberg called "the social media capital of the country, if not the world."

The city’s chief digital officer, Rachel Sterne, offered a tour of the city’s new social media sites, pointing out the availability of a "mayor of New York" badge through Foursquare and an "Ask Mike" button on the city’s Tumblr blog that allows users to submit questions directly to the mayor.

"We know you love New York," Sterne said with a smile. "Now it's like time to 'like' us."