UC Berkeley receives largest donation in campus history for ‘Data Hub’

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UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science and Society, or CDSS, received the largest donation in campus history of $252 million to contribute to the construction of the “Data Hub.”

The completed CDSS building will be located at the intersection of Hearst Avenue, Arch Street and MacFarlane Lane and will act as a point of intersection for a variety of disciplines on campus, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos. He added that the donation also acts as an “anchor gift” in moving the project forward.

“We are immensely grateful for this incredibly generous gift, and very excited about the opportunities it creates for Berkeley and for the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society,” said Associate Provost for CDSS Jennifer Chayes in an email. “This speaks to the enormous relevance and potential of computing and data science working hand-in-hand with disciplines from across campus.”

The data science major is the largest growing major on campus with more than 6,000 undergraduate students annually enrolling in a data science course. According to a campus press release, this growth shows the importance of data science in the modern world.

The donation is also part of the campus’s “Light the Way” fundraising campaign that launched Feb. 29 that aims to raise $6 billion by 2023.

“This is a wonderful moment where all students from different parts of the campus are wanting to learn and use data science for all parts of studies — our ability to offer high-quality instruction depends on having facilities built for that purpose,” Alivisatos said. “This anchor gift is what allows us to actually be able to put the shovel into the ground.”

The construction of the Data Hub follows recent changes within CDSS. On Feb. 5, the division was renamed, forgoing the provisional title of Division of Data Science and Information to its current name, recommended by Chayes, to reflect the broad range of the department.

The hub will act as a “magnet” that will bring students from disciplines across campus to collaborate to answer some of the “most critical” questions that society faces, including climate change and biomedicine, Chayes said in the press release.

The hub will most likely contain labs for robotics and artificial intelligence laboratories, alongside research centers, classrooms, communal workspaces and large auditoriums to accommodate the class sizes, according to the press release.

“The Data Hub will enable us to do innovative teaching of computing and data science inclusively and at scale,” Chayes said in the email. “It will also enable us to bring together the best researchers in the world to address the most important problems of our time.”

Contact Natalie Gott at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natgott_dc.

A previous version of this article attributed quotes to Kara Manke. In fact, these quotes and facts should be attributed to Jennifer Chayes.