UC Berkeley receives 3 $25M donations to fund construction of new facility

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On Monday, UC Berkeley received three gifts of $25 million each from two faculty members and one anonymous donor-directed toward the construction of a new facility.

The donations, made by the anonymous donor and campus professors Ion Stoica and Scott Shenker, will go toward building The Gateway, a facility designed to be a collaborative space for more than 1,600 faculty, students, researchers and staff that is anticipated to open in 2025.

The Gateway is part of a project to create a new home for campus’s division of Computing, Data Science and Society, or CDSS, at Berkeley. The facility will give multiple opportunities to catalyze discovery and research through mutual exploration and engagement, according to Jennifer Chayes, associate provost of CDSS.

“The CDSS brings together UC Berkeley programs, schools, and departments from across campus to create rich educational opportunities and ignite groundbreaking research to meet society’s greatest challenges,” Chayes said in an email.

Launched in 2018, the division was a response to efforts by faculty, students and staff to build a new data science curriculum, Chayes added. The division connects departments from all over campus, including the electrical engineering and computer sciences and statistics departments.

In addition to The Gateway project, Chayes noted the rapid growth in CDSS and its courses. The division’s introductory course, Data 8, “Foundations of Data Science,” grew its initial enrollment of fewer than 100 students a year to more than 3,000 current students.

The division aims to accelerate scalable solutions for pressing issues such as biomedicine and human health, climate and sustainability and human welfare and social justice, Chayes added.

“These generous gifts signal great momentum for the Gateway. They affirm the vision for transforming computing and data science research, instruction, and co-creation on campus — and creating what donor Ion Stoica has called an ‘idea factory,’ ” Chayes said in the email.

The facility will prioritize flexibility to accommodate the “future needs of fast-evolving fields,” Chayes noted in the email. She added that the interior features an open space layout with extended sightlines and natural light-filled corridors to encourage interaction and collaboration. As the name suggests, The Gateway is meant to be both a “physical” and “intellectual” gateway, according to Chayes.

Physically, she said, it will be built as a focal point on the north side of the campus to serve as a welcoming space for a wider community. Intellectually, The Gateway will be an expansive connector between diverse perspectives to bridge computer sciences and human “purpose,” Chayes noted.

“We must enlist computing, information, and data scientists — together with diverse scholars and practitioners across a range of disciplines — to fully address societal problems and find equitable solutions that benefit everyone,” Chayes said in an email.

Contact Ashley Tsai and Ryan Teoh at [email protected].