NYU President John Sexton and Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, dean of the School of Engineering, today announced a $100 million gift from Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon for engineering at NYU. The gift — which will principally support faculty hiring and academic programs — is intended to build on the engineering school’s existing practice of cross-disciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship and achieve new levels of academic excellence in engineering.
The school will be re-named the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in recognition of the Tandons’ generosity and their belief in the school’s mission and promise. The University has agreed to a challenge from the donors to raise an additional, separate $50 million, which will be principally focused on scholarship aid.
Chandrika Tandon is a member of the Board of Overseers of NYU’s business school, a member of the NYU Board of Trustees, and leads the NYU President’s Global Council. A former partner at McKinsey and Company, she is chair of Tandon Capital Associates, a financial advisory firm she founded in 1992. She also is a Grammy-nominated musician, with an album, Soul Call, nominated for Best Contemporary World Music in 2011. Her husband, Ranjan Tandon, is an engineer by training and a graduate of the Harvard Business School. He is founder and chair of Libra Advisors, a hedge fund he founded in 1990 that is now a family office.
The Tandons’ donation is believed to be the largest philanthropic gift by a member of the Indian-American community.
Engineering was only recently restored to NYU after a 40-year absence when NYU merged with Polytechnic University in 2014. Since affiliating, the University has invested approximately $100 million in engineering, with improvements in facilities, faculty hiring, admissions, and fundraising, and has also established the related Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). This gift will accelerate the School of Engineering’s academic advancement, enabling it to develop new areas of strength in engineering and to hire additional faculty.
Ms. Tandon said, “We feel privileged to be able to participate in the transformation that is happening at NYU and at the School of Engineering. As a Trustee of NYU, I have had a front row seat to the energy and excitement of the Global Network University and the scale of possibility it presents.
“Getting to know the engineering school was truly electrifying. The imagination and inventiveness of the students and faculty as they worked together on real world problems; the cutting- edge work being done both within the school and collaboratively across schools in such diverse areas like the arts, medicine, education, incubators; the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades the place — all this inspired us so. We truly believe that these students with the benefit of NYU’s global vision will make the world a better place.
“We also deeply respect the school’s extraordinary history and are honored to have a part in moving it forward with the visionary leadership team at the school and at the University.
“More broadly, Ranjan and I are great believers in STEM education, in the applied sciences, and in the analytic and creative disciplines that such an education develops. And we want to give back to the city that has given us so much. Our hope is that this gift will bring many more of us together to reinvent engineering, advance New York’s efforts to become a science and tech capital, and foster the talents of young innovators, applied scientists, and entrepreneurs. We believe this is just the beginning.”
Dr. Sexton said, “As an institution, NYU is good at many things. One is taking a program or a school or even an entire university to the next level of excellence. We often see the promise of greatness where others fail to see it; and, when we do, we act on it. That is the outlook that Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon have too. They understand how dynamic our School of Engineering is and how their gift can accelerate its magnificent trajectory. This will transform engineering at NYU and will have an impact that will reach far beyond its students and faculty, beyond even NYU. It will boost New York City’s — and especially Brooklyn’s — growing tech sector and, most of all, it will yield generations of innovators who, connected to NYU’s global network, will solve pressing and challenging problems throughout the world. I am immensely grateful to Chandrika and Ranjan.”
NYU Board of Trustees Chair Martin Lipton said, “On behalf of the NYU community, let me express my and our enormous gratitude to Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon. For many reasons I treasure my personal relationship and friendship with Chandrika and Ranjan. In addition, Chandrika stands out among the trustees not just for her extraordinary generosity, and not just for the conviction she so clearly demonstrates in the School of Engineering’s bright future, but also for her selfless involvement with the University community. Seldom have I seen someone who relishes her role as a Trustee more and who takes her responsibilities as seriously. Chandrika has been an enormous help to me in dealing with a number of the most important issues the Board has faced. As I look back over many decades of association with NYU, few developments will bring me as much satisfaction as restoring engineering to the University. And that’s why I am especially gratified by the Tandons’ wonderful gift: because it will help propel engineering at NYU so far. It is only fitting that the school will bear the name of people who are so visionary.”
William Berkley, Chair-designate of the NYU Board of Trustees, said, “This is an extraordinary gift, one that will ensure that engineering will be a center of excellence and a continuing source of vitality and entrepreneurial spirit for NYU as a whole. Though this gift is striking for its generosity, it is not Chandrika and Ranjan’s first gift to NYU, but it is emblematic of how their giving is special in three important ways: they make gifts that are entrepreneurial and cross-disciplinary and that they know will have an impact; their giving goes to great ideas, not just to institutions to which they have longstanding ties; and their gifts are indicative of the commitment they show to NYU in so many, many ways. The School of Engineering, the Board of Trustees, and the entire NYU community will always be grateful to them for their enormous generosity.”
“The Tandons' extraordinary act of generosity is remarkable not only because of the size of the gift, but also because it recognizes the importance of a school with which they had no prior affiliation,” said Dean Sreenivasan. “Engineering is at the core of so many aspects of our lives, and the Tandons' generosity will heighten our school’s already significant transformative role in the economy, medical advances, communications, and applied sciences. It is clear that the School is poised for higher levels of excellence. As a fellow native of India, I am deeply moved that the Tandons have chosen to support our path to academic excellence in this way and hope that their gift will inspire other successful Indians wherever they have chosen to live, to engage in large-scale philanthropy.”
Andrew Hamilton, NYU’s President-designate, said, “As a chemist, I understand full well the important role that engineering and applied sciences play in the university environment. I am absolutely delighted by this enormously generous gift, and, as I step into the presidency of NYU, I look forward to working closely with the Tandons in the years to come to fulfill their gift’s great promise for advancing engineering at NYU.”
Strengthening the School of Engineering
Funds from the gift will be used to:
• further enhance programs for which NYU engineering is already nationally recognized, including wireless, cybersecurity, and digital education and gaming
• boost other programs, including bio-engineering, digital media, urban issues, and materials
• enhance interdisciplinary programs such as financial engineering, technology management and innovation, and entrepreneurship in important areas such as clean energy, and
• hire new faculty, among other goals
Since affiliating with NYU in 2008, the School of Engineering (formerly the independent Polytechnic University) has seen significant improvements, including:
• Admissions: applicants for freshman admission have nearly tripled. Applicants, who were predominantly from the New York region previously, now come from 53 countries and 45 states.
• Fundraising: annual fundraising has increased by over 250% (exclusive of the Tandon gift)
• Investment and new space: NYU has invested approximately $100 million in engineering and added over 200,000 sq. ft. of new space
• New programs: New programs that include bio-engineering, in collaboration with NYU’s College of Dentistry and School of Medicine; the GovLab, which uses technology to democratize government decision making; the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Security and Privacy, which aligns engineering with psychology, law, and business; NYU Wireless, which works across fields to create the next generation of cellular communication, including the 5G spectrum; NYU MAGNET, the media and games network research and teaching center; and the NY State Resilience Institute for Storms & Preparedness, created to help prepare for and respond to extreme weather.
About the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
The school has 2,264 undergraduates and 2,738 graduate students, and 180 full-time faculty within 10 academic departments.
In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, it houses a robust K-12 STEM Education Center, and it thrives on interdisciplinary programs jointly with the rest of NYU.