Over the past year, the dream of opening a brand new business school campus had gotten a lot closer to fruition. Columbia University, one of the top research universities in the country, is still cramming their business students into tight quarters in Uris Hall. That building was opened in 1964 and has not been renovated since. The school’s 2,300 students and 300 faculty members were outgrowing the space, and the school was looking for ways to expand.
However, building a new business school campus comes with a high price tag. Columbia needed to raise over $600 million in time for the 2018 expected completion date. It was a lofty goal, but there was widespread backing from some major investors.
In a stroke of good fortune, the university has had a number of wealthy investors donate substantial funds to help with the project. Ronald Perelman and Henry Kravis of KKR both invested $100 million, tying the record for the highest donations ever.
Three months after those record-setting donations, another couple of investors stepped forward. Arthur Samberg, chairman of JetSuite, and Mario Gabelli, chairman and CEO of GAMCO Investors, together pledged another $40 million. That brought the total donations to nearly $500 million. The school will need about $100 million more to complete the project.
Both Samberg and Gabelli graduated from Columbia’s MBA program in 1967 and sit on the school’s Board of Overseers.
The West Harlem campus will be a sprawling 450,000 square feet and will have buildings named after Perelman and Henry Kravis, also a Columbia grad. The rest of the money collected will go toward the completion of facilities in Manhattanville.
In the end, the MBA students will probably be happy not to have to share a building with the law students anymore. It brings a little more prestige and a lot more space for the lucky enrollees.