Gift from Wendy and Eric Schmidt ’76 will consolidate computer science department by 2026| May 30, 2019
By 2026, a significantly rebuilt Guyot Hall will house the Department of Computer Science, which is currently spread out over nine buildings, due to a gift from Eric Schmidt ’76 and his wife, Wendy Schmidt, according to a University announcement on Thursday.
Renovations on the building, which will be renamed the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Hall, are scheduled to begin in 2024. The building, originally constructed in 1909, will maintain its Gothic architecture.
The University plans to construct another building for environmental sciences that will retain the Guyot name. During the renovation, there will be interim space for the computer science department in the Friend Center.
The gift comes as a result of the rapid growth of the department, which has become the University’s largest, with about 25 percent of University students majoring or receiving a certificate in computer science.
The Schmidts hope that the central location on campus, across from Frist Campus Center, will promote collaboration in computer science on campus, according to the University statement.
Jennifer Rexford ’91, the Chair of the Department of Computer Science, echoed this sentiment and expressed deep gratitude for Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s gift. She hopes the hall will assist the creation of “intellectual collisions and serendipitous encounters between faculty and among students,” according to the University statement.
Eric Schmidt added that he believes data science has the “potential to transform every discipline,” including uncovering solutions to deeply rooted societal problems.
“Wendy and I are excited to think about what will be possible when Princeton is able to gather students and faculty in one place, right at the center of campus, to discover now-unimaginable solutions for the future century,” he said in the statement.
This gift marks the third publicly notable contribution the Schmidts have made to the University. They previously established the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund in 2009 and the Schmidt DataX Fund earlier this year.
Eric and Wendy Schmidt are also the founders of Schmidt Futures, which aims “to nurture the best ideas and most promising leaders, driving measurable results from new approaches to long-standing problems.”
Professionally, Eric Schmidt has served as Google’s chief executive officer from 2001 to 2011, before becoming the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company.
He was also a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and a Trustee of the University.
“Eric Schmidt’s brilliant career as a computer scientist makes the Schmidt name especially fitting for the new home of Princeton’s world-class Department of Computer Science,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 in the University statement.
Wendy Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, which promotes renewable energy and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The gift will be made through the Schwab Charitable Fund.