FROM CORNELL.edu: Alumnus Ratan Tata and President David Skorton after signing their historic agreement that will provide an endowment of $50 million to Cornell for agriculture and nutrition programs in India and for the education of Indian students at Cornell. PHOTO: Robert Barker/University Photography
What economic crisis? Here's news of a big new philanthropic gift to Cornell University from Chronicle of Higher Education:
Ratan Tata, an Indian industrialist and Cornell University alumnus, announced today a gift of $50-million to his alma mater to help recruit top Indian students to the campus and to support joint research projects with Indian universities in agriculture and nutrition.
The gift from the Tata Trusts, a group of philanthropic organizations run by Mr. Tata, chairman of the business conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd., will allow Cornell to establish and expand partnerships with Indian scientists that build on its strength in applied agriculture research. He graduated from Cornell in 1959.
The donation will also be used to set up a scholarship fund to bring more Indian students, who may be discouraged by Cornell's price tag, to the university. The gift could eventually help support as many as 25 Indian undergraduate and graduate students at a time.
"We want to have our doors wide open and accessible to the best students, regardless of their capacity to pay," said David J. Skorton, Cornell's president.
Here's how the gift came to be:
The Tata gift grew out of a trip that Dr. Skorton and other Cornell administrators took to India in January 2007 (The Chronicle, March 2, 2007). The visit, he said, helped make clear the need to improve academic and research linkages between American and Indian universities.
Dr. Skorton, who calls Cornell the "land-grant university to the world," says the Tata funds will expand on its previous work to improve the productivity, sustainability, and profitability of India's food system. Faculty members in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have conducted research experiments and exchanged scientific information with their Indian counterparts for more than 50 years.
The precise type and scope of the efforts, however, will be decided by an advisory panel to be chaired by Dr. Skorton and Mr. Tata. They will work "shoulder to shoulder," Dr. Skorton said, to ensure that the projects reflect both Indian and American needs.
For his part, Mr. Tata, who also received an architecture degree from Cornell in 1962, says he did not want his donation to finance "bricks and mortar."
"I didn't want my name on a building," he said.