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Stanford Pulls Out of NYC Competition for Engineering Campus

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Stanford University withdrew its application from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s competition to bring an engineering school to the city.

The California university pulled out of the bidding after three weeks of negotiations with city officials starting the week after Thanksgiving, said Lisa Lapin, a university spokeswoman. President John Hennessy was personally involved in the discussions, she said.

“The whole effort of the university was behind it,” Lapin said in a telephone interview. “It was disappointing.”

Bloomberg has offered universities around the world the right to compete to create a new engineering campus on city-owned land. New York plans to provide $100 million for infrastructure improvements at the site. Columbia University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University and Amity University of India also are among the 15 schools that entered bids. Results will be announced in January, city officials have said.

Stanford and New York officials failed to reach an agreement on a number of points, including whether the school could withdraw from the project without penalties, said a person familiar with some of the negotiations who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The impasse was partly a result of the different cultures and expectations of a private university and a major city, the person said.

An earlier stumbling block over environmental liability was settled and not the reason for the withdrawal, the person said.

Roosevelt Island

Stanford had proposed a $2.5 billion campus on Roosevelt Island to be built over 30 years to house 200 professors and 2,000 students. The university planned to invest $100 million of its own money and embark on a 10-year fundraising campaign to build the campus. The university had announced a partnership with City College of New York, which would be its temporary home when it opened 2013.

In a statement, Stanford said its board of trustees decided it wouldn’t be in Stanford’s best interest to pursue the project. The school couldn’t “be certain that it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus,” the statement said.

‘World-Class’ Campus

The mayor invited proposals in July for the right to open a “world-class” campus for engineering and applied science, and on Oct. 27 he said he may award multiple winners. The project may generate $6 billion in economic activity with as many as 400 new companies and 22,000 permanent jobs in its first 30 years, Bloomberg said.

“We are in serious negotiations with several of the other applicants, each of whom has a game-changing project queued up,” said Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the mayor. “We look forward to announcing a winner soon.”

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.

Stanford’s endowment was $16.5 billion as Aug. 31. The school’s main campus is near Palo Alto.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net; Oliver Staley in New York at ostaley@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Schoifet at mschoifet@bloomberg.net or Jonathan Kaufman in Boston at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net

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