January 30, 2012, 1:00 pm
Helen Gurley Brown Gives $30 Million for Media Innovation at Columbia and Stanford
By BRIAN STELTERAmy Sussman/Getty Images for the Israeli Film FestivalHelen Gurley Brown with her late husband, David Brown, in 2006.
With the backing of a $30 million donation from Helen Gurley Brown, the former editor of Cosmopolitan, the graduate school of journalism at Columbia University and the school of engineering at Stanford University on Monday said that they would create a center for media innovation.
The center, which would be housed on both campuses, represents the “increasingly important connection between journalism and technology, bringing the best from the East and West Coasts,” the schools wrote in a news release.
Of the total donation, $24 million will establish the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. Split in half between the two schools, the funds will pay for two directors of the institute, one at each campus; for graduate and postgraduate fellowships; and what the universities call “magic grants” for those fellows.
Columbia will receive an additional $6 million to construct a new space within the university’s journalism building, including a newsroom for students to use.
The journalism school said the total $18 million being given to the school was the largest donation in its history.
“The purpose of the Brown Institute will be to create the closest ongoing partnership I’m aware of between journalists and computer scientists,” the dean of the school, Nicholas Lemann, wrote in an e-mail message to students and faculty members. He called the institute a “complex, ambitious project” that should propel forward the journalism school, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the country.
Ms. Brown’s husband, David, who died two years ago, attended both universities and produced films like “Jaws,” “The Sting” and “The Verdict.”
In a statement, Ms. Brown, who is 89, said: “David and I have long supported and encouraged bright young people to follow their passions and to create original content. Great content needs useable technology. Sharing a language is where the magic happens. It’s time for two great American institutions on the East and West Coasts to build a bridge.”
Stanford said it had appointed Bernd Girod, an engineering professor, to be the institute’s founding director. Columbia has yet to appoint a director at its campus.
The universities said that a board of advisers from technology and media companies would oversee the institute.
Helen Gurley Brown Gives $30 Million for Media Innovation at Columbia and Stanford - NYTimes.com