The development of Manhattanville as a new campus for Columbia University is an exciting proposition for the advancement of the academic mission of the University. Many schools and departments have felt constrained by the limited space on the Morningside Heights and Medical Center campuses. The new space will allow new visions to be fulfilled over the next generation.
Now that the New York City Council has approved the general plans for Manhattanville, the question is how Columbia will fulfill this great opportunity. Great financial resources will be needed, but also decisions will have to be made as to which projects will be undertaken and how each can be made to be most successful. How will these decisions impact on programs at the other campuses? What new projects will be undertaken on the other campuses due to space freed up by units moving to Manhattanville? Will there be themes or cohesiveness of projects in Manhattanville, i.e. will certain types of programs be placed together or define an academic atmosphere for part or all of Manhattanville?
The Campus Planning Task Force along with the Senate Physical Development Committee have been investigating how decisions will be made for development of Manhattanville and the University by meeting with University Deans and Administrators. The extensiveness of plans varies greatly by how long each school has been engaged in this planning process. We will summarize below where the University is in planning the first phase of Manhattanville, how this planning is being done by each school involved that we have talked to, and finally make recommendations as to how planning and decision making should be done for further development.
Current Plans for Phase I
Decisions have already been made for essentially all of Phase I of Manhattanville, the area south of 129th St. plus one building north of 129th along 12th Avenue. This area will include buildings for a Mind, Brain and Behavior Institute, the Business School, the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the School of the Arts. Decisions to place these buildings in Manhattanville were made by the President and the central administration in consultation with the Deans of each school. One reason for decisions being made was that specific plans needed to be presented to the City during the approval process. The choice of the business school was also made because it was thought that they are a large unit which could anchor Manhattanville, they needed extra space and agreed to the move, and they would likely be able to raise funds for a significant portion of the new building.
The choice of the Mind, Brain and Behavior building was promulgated by a large and generous gift from Jerome L. Greene that made this inter-campus effort led by leading neuroscientists at the medical school a realistic possibility.
SIPA was chosen since it fits in well with the business school as a professional school. SIPA also has limited space in its present location and could benefit from expansion. However, a strong case was not made for this need or future plans.
The School of the Arts also has limited space and is dispersed in many locations. An architectural firm was commissioned in 2000 to present a plan for renovation of Prentis Hall for the School of the Arts.
An additional lot in the Phase I or southern region of Manhattanville has been set aside for a New York City High School for Science, which will collaborate with Columbia faculty, as part of community outreach by the University.
Planning by specific Schools of the University
Amir Ziv, Vice Dean of the Business School, reported on plans to move to Manhattanville, which are the most extensive and farthest along among the schools represented before the task force. The planning process started in the business school in response to a request from the President as to whether the business school would consider a move to Manhattanville. This prompted internal discussion. Other alternatives, such as additions to Uris, were considered with the school’s board of overseers, a group of 80-90 leading businessman and public figures who are mostly alumni. Internal discussions with faculty were also conducted by the Dean. Manhattanville was deemed the best option despite some regrets at separating from other departments on the Morningside campus.
The need for the move is to be competitive with peer institutions which have updated their facilities. The business school is now dispersed in five sites and is fully using its space well into the evening. A move will provide more space for a better learning environment and a moderate expansion in size of the student population.
The review in the business school is largely based on improving the educational experience for students. The first step of the business school’s review was sending some students and faculty to look at peer institutions. A group of consultants also reviewed how the school could best accommodate students. Focus groups were also conducted to gain input from students.
The students are taught in seven modules of about 60 students (to be increased to eight in a new building). To provide for these students, the plan for new classroom space includes lecture halls for groups from 25 to 150 along with small rooms for “breakout” activities during and after classes. A large auditorium, to be shared with other schools, is also proposed.
Students and faculty have been actively involved in the planning process. The issue of separation from Morningside departments, such as Economics, has not yet been resolved. Finally, it is anticipated that the Business school will raise about $200 million for the new building. They have also negotiated a financial deal with the University for relinquishing Uris and other buildings.
Interim Dean John Coatsworth (now appointed dean) spoke to the task force about plans for SIPA to move to Manhattanville. The plans to date were not extensive as Dean Coatsworth has only recently been appointed interim dean and has only been at Columbia for a year and a half. The justification of the move is that the school has outgrown its present building with an expansion of students from 200 to 1200 and faculty from 60-70 to 150-180. Under Dean Coatsworth the school is presently reorganizing the curriculum to consolidate the present 19 concentrations down to 6-7, focusing on policy issues such as urban studies, international finance and trade, and energy and the environment. Other changes will follow and in some ways be shaped by these new concentrations.
There are plans to appoint a faculty committee to examine plans for SIPA in Manhattanville, followed by review by all faculty and senior staff.
The move of SIPA would particularly affect departments in Arts and Sciences, such as political science and economics, with which its faculty have joint appointments and many relationships. There are no plans as of yet as to how to mitigate the effect of the move on these other departments.
There was a vision plan previously prepared by SIPA several years ago proposing a new building, however it is not clear how SIPA was chosen for a new building in Manhattanville except for the President consulting with the Dean.
Engineering and Applied Science:
The task force heard a presentation from SEAS interim Dean Gerald Navratil about the school’s plans for Manhattanville. They have an extensive plan to raise the ranking of SEAS among the nation’s engineering schools from 19 in U.S. News and World Report to the top 10. This plan came out of an academic planning exercise commissioned by former Dean Zvi Galil in 2005 and completed by the SEAS Board of Visitors in 2007. After an initial draft of the report, faculty became involved on a committee that included Dean Navratil before he became dean. Once appointed interim dean, Dean Navratil consulted with department chairs to come to a consensus.
The study determined that the quality of the Ph.D. programs and the amount of research (rather than the undergraduate program) were lowering the ratings. The general plan is to hire additional high quality faculty which would help seek more research funding. This would in turn assure the excellence of Ph.D. students. There was faculty support to focus on five major interdisciplinary areas: biotechnology, energy and environmental engineering, financial applications, advanced computing and IT, and materials science from nanoscale to composite. A key desire and indicator of increasing the quality of the school is attaining one to three NSF funded research centers.
The expansion plan for SEAS involves hiring about 7 faculty a year to reach a size of 240 from the present 155 by 2020. This will require new space which is particularly low compared to most higher ranked engineering schools. The proposal is for a large building, 500,000 sq. ft. in Phase II of Manhattanville, to be called the Institute for Emerging Technologies, that would house new research labs and centers as well as space for an incubator for new venture companies. In addition, 20,000 sq. ft. is planned in the Interdisciplinary Science Building for nanotechnology and 20,000 sq. ft. in Uris for computer science or other non-wet lab engineering programs.
School of the Arts:
Dean Carol Becker and Dean Jana Wright (Academic Administration) reported on plans by the School of the Arts. The school is now designated to occupy a renovated Prentis Hall in Manhattanville and will retain its present space in Dodge Hall. The school is now dispersed in many locations including midtown studios of adjunct professors. There is a desire for more space which many include a repurposing of part of 560 Riverside Drive. Other possibilities include the Lantern and Bowtie buildings in Manhattanville. There is a particular desire to have a large theatre space for dance, opera, film and musical theatre productions. In addition, rehearsal space and gallery space for thesis shows is needed. A case was made that peer institutions have major theatre facilities while Columbia does not.
Expansion plans for the School of the Arts go back at least to 2000 when the university commissioned an architectural firm, ShoP, to do a feasibility study for renovation of Prentis. This document envisioned construction on top of Prentis which is not possible since Prentis is an historic building.
The administration of the School of the Arts has clearly been actively involved in planning for some time. Divisional chairs have been involved this past year and a faculty planning committee will start work next fall. Funding of new facilities is not readily available and efforts are being made to develop alumni connections and raise funds from other donors.
Dean Lee Goldman spoke with the Task Force about plans at the medical school. In general Dean Goldman is taking a prudent approach to planning so as not to overextend the school financially. The present plans for the Mind, Brain and Behavior (MBB) building in Manhattanville pre-dated Dean Goldman though they will represent a significant expansion and involve many neuroscientists at the medical school. The planning committee for MBB is headed by Prof. Tom Jessell. Little information was available on specifics except that occupancy isn’t expected till 2014. There is one additional site for a substantial building on the Medical Center campus. Dean Goldman’s rule of thumb is that financially sound practice is to raise half the price of a building to support its costs with the other half covered by debt that can be funded by indirect cost returns (ICR) of grants. In addition growth of the faculty and the research enterprise takes time such that building too quickly could leave space underutilized for a significant time. Therefore the plan is to proceed prudently to complete MBB and build in Washington Heights once funding is available. Once these projects are well under way and more funding is available, an additional building in Manhattanville is anticipated. Nevertheless, Dean Goldman suggested that this process could move quickly with a rate of 1-2 new buildings every 5-10 years.
There has been a space planning process involving faculty and administrators. A committee of faculty and administrators, led by Prof. David Bickers, Chair of Dermatology, reported in Fall 2007. The second phase is that administrators are examining the plan to determine what is financially feasible. An anticipated third phase is that a faculty and administrator committee will then refine the plan.
The “Bickers report” has been distributed to chairs at the medical school, but has not been shared with the general faculty. Issues that remain to be considered for expansion to Manhattanville are how to balance the separation of biomedical researchers from clinical scientists and practice that will remain on the Washington Heights campus. There was the suggestion to have at least some outpatient facilities in Manhattanville to keep some clinical practice close to research buildings.
Summary and Recommendations
The account above shows that planning in individual schools is at many different stages and has involved different processes. Specific buildings in Manhattanville have been assigned to schools in certain cases while in others proposals have been made. The pattern so far has mostly been that the central administration has asked a school to consider a move to Manhattanville and that has promulgated discussion in that school about what it would mean and how it might be done. There are two general stages to the planning process. The first step has been the central administration deciding on a potential move to Manhattanville. We have attained little information as to how this is decided except that sensible decisions had to be made during the city approval process. When asked, Deans have generally said that they are just one part of the process and were not aware of how the general decisions were made. There has been no general theme proposed for Manhattanville although the trend appears to favor post-graduate schools. The second stage has been discussions within each school. These vary partly due to the stage they are at. The most extensive were from the business school and SEAS. They each had an extensive plan about how a new building would improve their schools and had specifics as to what academic programs would go into the new buildings. They also had discussions with different constituencies from Boards of Overseers to faculty and students.
A. These two stages of decision making could be more connected and open. We propose that decisions for Manhattanville and new use of space on other campuses be made based on concrete proposals (including plans and justifications) from individual schools as described below. The decisions by the central administration should also be made by a larger and clearer group of people. There should be a blue ribbon panel comprised of faculty, trustees, students, alumni and staff and perhaps outside experts that will judge each proposal on its merits determining which projects are most important, practical and in the best interests of the university. The panel also may consider general planning and propose academic themes or specific use of space. These ideas should be forwarded to units of the University for more full proposals as described below. This panel should make recommendations to the President and Trustees. The panel and President should also report back to each of the proposing schools on their findings.
B. Each school interested in expansion or a move to Manhattanville or to another building on one of the campuses should make a proposal to the blue ribbon panel. Proposals should contain the following elements:
Justification: What need will the new project serve? How will the new building advance the academic mission of the school? Cases where the school is now suffering from lack of space should be documented. How the new space will change the situation should also be explained. The benefits of the project should be described. The project should be shown to increase the stature or ranking of the school. If appropriate, how the project will bring a new academic field to the university should be explained.
Planning Process: Describe the planning process for the new project. Discussion with and contributions from faculty, students, alumni or oversight boards, if they exist, are strongly encouraged. Any use of expert consultants may also be useful. General support within the school should be shown.
Plan: A somewhat detailed plan of usage of new space should be presented. If the space is for educational purposes, the need for particular types of class room space should be explained along with which educational priorities they would advance. For research space, the amount needed for each goal or investigator should be explained. How many new laboratories and investigators will be accommodated? It should be described what new research mission will be advanced and how this will be accomplished. Similar types or explanations should be made for other types of projects.
Collateral effects of the new project: A move may affect other parts of a school or other departments in the university due to the separation of units which had important interactions. The units that will be affected by the move should be defined and plans to mitigate problems of any separation should be proposed. If the move will bring units together and promote interdisciplinary study, this should also be explained.
Funding: Expected funding sources should be explained. How much will need to be raised from philanthropy, general university funds, debt service, grants or other sources? Any steps that have been taken towards raising funds should be explained.