The University of California, Berkeley has announced a $252 million gift from an anonymous donor in support of a new "Data Hub" facility.
The largest gift in the university's history will provide funding for construction of a sustainable facility that serves as a hub for the School of Information's new Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). Although plans have not been finalized, the building is expected to include faculty offices and classrooms, robotics and AI labs, workroom spaces, public gathering areas, and a large auditorium. Approximately six thousand undergraduates enroll in a data science course at Berkeley each year, and the university's new data science major is the fastest-growing major on campus.
The university is working to raise approximately $300 million in private support for the project in addition to the anonymous gift, which was announced at an event marking the start of the public phase of a campaign to raise $6 billion by the end of 2023. The university has raised $3.4 billion to date since it opened the quiet phase of the campaign in 2014.
"The Data Hub will be a magnet, bringing together scholars from disciplines across campus to forge new collaborations and take on some of the most critical questions facing society today, from biomedicine, to climate change and sustainability, to making data-informed public policy on issues of societal significance," said Jennifer Chayes, associate provost for CDSS and dean of the School of Information. "To ensure these systems and tools are used ethically and responsibly, experts in computing and data science must work closely with ethicists, sociologists, legal scholars, and others at every step of the process. And for these collaborations to happen, these disparate groups need a space to work together."