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CUNY to Use Record $75M Donation for Compsci, AI Research

The City University of New York (CUNY) is using $75 million from the Simons Foundation to hire new faculty for courses in advanced computer science, and to support AI research efforts with other institutions in New York.

A plaque on a wall with the CUNY logo at the City University of New York (CUNY) Headquarters in New York City.
A plaque at the City University of New York (CUNY) Headquarters in New York City.
Erik McGregor/TNS
The City University of New York (CUNY) is putting the largest donation in its history toward computational science and supporting joint artificial intelligence research efforts with other higher ed institutions in New York.

According to a news release this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $75 million donation from the philanthropic Simons Foundation, the majority of which — $50 million — will be used to hire 25 faculty members and establish a new master’s degree program in computational science, which applies programming techniques to solve problems in other fields. The remaining $25 million will support AI research efforts at CUNY as part of of the governor’s Empire AI initiative, a research consortium of AI researchers from Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, CUNY and the Simons Foundation.

“For many New Yorkers, higher education is critical to pursuing a career and building a brighter future for themselves,” Gov. Hochul said in a public statement. “This incredible donation from the Simons Foundation will help expand New York’s role in the future of AI at CUNY, preparing our students to fill the jobs of tomorrow right here in our state. With this funding, we are creating more opportunities for our students while solidifying New York as a leader in technology.”

Citing recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the release said the advanced computer industry is projected to add over 300,000 new jobs in the coming decade. Noting the demand among employers for applicants able to fill those positions, the news release added that CUNY’s new master’s program will include new career training opportunities in the industry and be housed in the CUNY Graduate Center.

The $50 million for computational science programs will also allow CUNY to host workshops and lectures, and fund conference travel for faculty and students.

“The [CUNY] Graduate Center has grown its investment in science education and research over the past decade to include new master’s programs in cognitive neuroscience, astrophysics and data science,” CUNY Graduate Center Interim President Joshua Brumberg said in a public statement. “These areas of research can be rapidly advanced by the application of computational techniques that allow us to ask and solve complex problems. Simons’ investment recognizes that we are ideally positioned to create this new program, help grow New York as a center of computational science research and ensure diversity in this cutting-edge field.”