July 15, 2024
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Binghamton University set to receive $5 million landmark gift to pursue AI research and development

Donation from Bloomberg L.P. co-founder and alumnus Tom Secunda to support Empire AI initiative at Binghamton

Binghamton University alumnus Thomas F. Secunda '76, MA '79 speaks at a press conference at the Innovation Technologies Complex on March 1, 2024. Binghamton University alumnus Thomas F. Secunda '76, MA '79 speaks at a press conference at the Innovation Technologies Complex on March 1, 2024.
Binghamton University alumnus Thomas F. Secunda '76, MA '79 speaks at a press conference at the Innovation Technologies Complex on March 1, 2024. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

UPDATE: On April 20, New York lawmakers approved a $237 billion state budget that includes funding for the Empire AI Consortium. As a result, Binghamton University will receive the $5 million gift from Tom Secunda discussed below. Thank you, Governor Hochul and NY legislators, for supporting and expanding AI research and academic opportunities at NY institutions of higher education and for taking economic and ethical leadership of this emerging technology.

Bloomberg L.P. co-founder and Binghamton University alumnus Tom Secunda ’76, MA ’79 today announced a landmark $5 million donation to Binghamton University to attract, recruit and retain tech talent, creating a pipeline for students to participate in the artificial intelligence economy of the future.

“Binghamton University sees tremendous potential for exciting research, education and economic development opportunities related to the Empire AI initiative,” Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said. “We are thrilled that Tom Secunda is choosing to support Binghamton so generously within this transformational area of research. Tom visited campus recently with Governor Hochul and met with faculty studying how to use AI to solve important societal issues ranging from healthcare to information security. His gift will advance Binghamton’s research efforts and Empire AI will provide essential links to other institutions across the state.”

The gift is contingent upon the passage of Empire AI in the 2025 New York state budget and would support Binghamton’s participation in Empire AI research and development. Empire AI, proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul and included in the Senate and Assembly one-house budget proposals, will establish a state-of-the-art AI computing center in Buffalo, N.Y.

“As a Binghamton University alumnus, I’m proud to champion novel tech advancement and AI infrastructure at my alma mater,” Secunda said. “Embracing AI will not only unlock new opportunities for New York, but it will also catalyze the emergence of innovative jobs in uncharted industries with the potential to make our state the Silicon Valley of AI development. I urge the legislature to support opportunities for New York’s students to lead responsible AI research that will have the tremendous potential to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.”

Empire AI will be the first project of its kind in the country, with research geared toward the public good and overseen by educational institutions, placing New York in the driver’s seat for future AI development.

“This generous commitment from groundbreaking leader and SUNY alumnus Tom Secunda is a testament to the results, promise and potential of research at Binghamton University,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King. “SUNY’s university centers, including Binghamton, are at the forefront of researching and designing artificial intelligence applications to advance the public good. We are excited about the opportunities Empire AI will create for SUNY to lead on AI – from healthcare to climate resilience, and from educational interventions for students with disabilities to ethics and information integrity.”

“With the creation of the Empire AI consortium, we can make New York the preeminent leader in responsible AI research and development,” said New York State Senator Lea Webb. “The Senate and Assembly have included the Empire AI Consortium in our one-house budget proposals, which I support. This significant funding from Tom Secunda will help Binghamton University build a pipeline for students to participate in artificial intelligence and bolster economic development and job creation in the Southern Tier.”

Researchers at Binghamton University are already working on a number of projects that use AI to tackle important societal issues. These range from protecting power systems from malicious attacks to developing a robotic seeing-eye dog for people who are blind.

“Binghamton University’s faculty, students and staff are enormously grateful to Tom Secunda for his gift on behalf of our artificial intelligence initiatives,” said Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald E. Hall. “AI has unlimited potential to shape the future of our society, our work and our lives, and Binghamton researchers are already trying to answer some of the questions it poses. Mr. Secunda’s donation will allow the University to continue attracting leaders who will do important work on our campus and work with partners across the state to drive the Empire AI project forward.”

“I’d like to thank Binghamton University alum Tom Secunda for his generous $5M donation,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. “This will allow BU researchers and students to more fully participate in the Empire AI initiative. It will also greatly aid in our efforts to position New York at the center of responsible AI research and development; promoting advancements that will benefit the public good. It also highlights the prestigious position that Binghamton University holds when it comes to groundbreaking tech advancements.”

The Empire AI consortium – which is comprised of the State University of New York (including Binghamton University), the City University of New York, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Flatiron Institute – will lead the development for responsible AI that is focused on serving the people of New York first. The center will be used by New York’s leading institutions to promote responsible research and development, create jobs, and unlock AI opportunities across the state.

Posted in: Campus News, Watson