NYU Reacts: Poly becomes Tandon

NYU Poly was recently renamed NYU Tandon.

NYU’s engineering school has been renamed the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, following a $100 million donation from Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon announced on Monday.

Chandrika is on the NYU Board of Trustees and is an Emmy-nominated musician, while Ranjan runs a hedge fund and has made major contributions to other academic institutions including Yale University. NYU has pledged to raise an additional $50 million for financial aid in response to the donation.

The school, which was founded in 1854, became affiliated with NYU in 2008. Last year, it fully merged with NYU, becoming the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

Members of the NYU community shared their reactions to the donation — and the name change that followed.



“After a day or two of letting it sink in, I don’t think it’s too bad. I mean, Stern is named after someone, and so is Steinhardt and Tisch, so why not Tandon? It’s just going to take some time to stick, and eventually everyone in the engineering industry will be familiar with it and know that it’s Poly renamed. But I’m still putting ‘formerly Polytechnic School of Engineering’ on all my resumes for a while.”

–Emily Dethlefs, Tandon sophomore

“I don’t really care about the name change as much as I care about what it represents. The fact that NYU is willing to change the name of an entire school due to a financial incentive shows very clearly how this place is run just like a corporate entity whose main goal is profit. They’re making it really hard for us students to pretend like their main goal is our education.”

–John David, CAS freshman

“I don’t believe the name change is worth $100 million. Then again, I don’t really think any amount of money would be worth it. That being said, however, I understand the name change, and know that the gift, and even the name change, will do a lot of good for the school. But as a junior, I feel like I’m losing heritage for money that I will personally never see.”

–Nico Gonzalez, Tandon junior

“As an outsider, it’s going to be a rough transition for a couple of years during school and for the students who are graduating because the name Tandon only has recognition in the music world. But there will come a time that the Tandon School of Engineering will have similar name recognition to Tisch or Stern. We should thank the Tandons for their generous donation, but the administration should try to make the transition as smooth as possible for the students that are in the middle of it.”

–Cole Swartz, CAS freshman

“$100 million is a lot of money that I’m sure will be put to good use. This change will better integrate Poly with the rest of NYU — something that Poly kids also complain about, the fact that main campus NYU is a lot nicer than Poly — and it was only a matter of time until it happened.”

–James Beck, Tandon sophomore

“Being paying customers, we reserve the right to be mad. We enrolled thinking that we would get a degree from a Polytechnic School of Engineering, a degree that would’ve had a lot of prestige in the STEM world. Our history and our pride were taken away from us. Until Tandon becomes a household name like Stern or Steinhardt, this name change will cause outrage. Current Poly students who enrolled to a school renowned for previously being Brooklyn Polytechnic, and Poly alumni, whose degrees are now from a school that does not exist anymore.”

–Abir Hassan, Tandon freshman

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  1. Renaming the Polytechnic implies that this venerable institution of learning is/was of no consequence starting from its establishment back in 1854. Sadly the list of distinguished alumni that have graduated from Polytechnic have suddenly and irrevocably had their accomplishments diminished by this act. By establishing such a precedence, one begs the question of how often this renaming process will now happen going forward? I’m amazed that it only took $100M to prostitute Polytechnic’s name in perpetuity. For the next renaming, will the going rate double and also be subject to inflation?

    If Polytechnic were truly on its last leg financially, the proper plea would have been to ‘expose all and get publically naked’. Meaning you create a saturated alumni donation plea reviewing your poorly run, abysmal financial status (thoroughly document yourself as being losers) and stating that it’s up to ‘you’ our Polytechnic alumni to reach into your pockets and keep Poly alive. Americans love honesty and the underdog, and will tolerate the proper style of begging if it’s done right!

    I’ll bet you the Poly alumni response would have raised at least 10X Tandon’s generous contribution which required not a stich of work on the Board’s part, but which obligated you to throw up your hands and give away the store’s name for a humiliating handful of pennies!

    You realize that the Donald Othmer family (Othmer was a Poly Professor who died in 1999: cf: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/04/nyregion/340-million-windfall-brooklyn-5-institutions-happy-problem-spend-money.html?pagewanted=all ) gave Poly ~$175 M back in 1999 (inflation at 8% annually for 16 yrs values this donation at $600M) , but I don’t recollect that Poly was ever referred to as Othmer Polytechnic, do you!

    I Suppose those were different times, right? People then were more gracious, generous, less self-centered, less of the ‘me generation’ and consequently respected learning institutions and their honored names. They could not, would not ever consider renaming an institution after themselves simply from an excess of vanity and personal aggrandizement.

    H. Vogel, Class of BS ’67, MS ‘68

  2. How can one so easily discard the name and existence of a venerable institution without looking at all options available? The fact that Poly melded with the NYU educational system should have helped its financial stability somewhat. The concept and existence of the Metro-Tech complex must also be helping somewhat. The Othmer donation of what amounts in today’s dollars of 600M had to of helped somewhat!

    So where did Poly go wrong in having to permanently prostitute its name and ostensibly its existence for an ephemeral gift of 100M? 100M band aids are only a temporary stopgap to addressing an institution that is poorly managed financially. Where will this end and how many times will Poly/Tandon require financial infusions compelling it to keep changing its name? How would you feel if your school, the Indian Institute of Science, decided to change its name to Vogel Institute because I donated them some money? Would you feel defiled and having your accumulated degrees totally undermined?

  3. Love how ungrateful these students are. They’re “outraged” because the school raised $100M help pay for their education/equipment/food/housing? They need to understand that “financial aid” doesn’t fall from the sky.

  4. @HV You might want to look around and realize that the majority of engineering schools in the US are named after an individual. Somehow it doesn’t devalue the degrees at any of these schools. You’re making up a problem that doesn’t exist, purely out of nostalgia.

  5. I graduated from Poly in ’56 as a proud and prepared Electrical Engineer. Now, nearly sixty years later, most of my professors are gone, many of my classmates are gone, and finally even the name is gone. I don’t mean to pout but $100 million is a goodly sum. It looks like they don’t need me anymore. They can save some money by taking me off their mailing list. Looking back, I have fonder memories of Brooklyn Technical High School!

  6. I went to Polytechnic in the late 80’s and gradute in the 90′ class. We are taught as Engineers to be “problem solvers”. I think a good compromise on all sides can be accomplished here.

    Rename the school to “NYU – Tandon Polytechnic School of Engineering”.

    It allows NYU to thank the Tandons for their generous donation of $100 million, it satisfies the Tandons to preserve their legacy to become synonymous with “Stern” or “Tisch” name in the NYU community. It satisfies the current Polytechnic student body, alumni and former faculty in preserving the rich legacy of the Polytechnic name and 161 years of history. The Tandons challenged NYU to raise a $50 million matching fund. How will NYU accomplish this when they have outraged their former Engineering school alumni? This new name change NYU – Tandon Polytechnic School of Engineering will bring the Present in line with Past moving together to Future!

    P. Hsu, Class of 90′ BS Electrical Engineering/Computer Science

  7. The name change is a good thing for Poly. Now make sure that the $100 million is used in a sustainable way. Otherwise, if stupid people are put in charge of handling it, THE $100 MILLION WILL EVAPORATE JUST LIKE THE $175 MILLION THAT OTHER GAVE TO POLY IN 1999. POLY ALSO RAISED AN ADDITIONAL $100 MILLION IN 1999, WHICH ALSO EVAPORATED!

  8. I agree with the majority here. Graduated in 64/68. Dad taught there (farmingdale campus) as an adjunct. Not the collegiate experience that ranked up there but a fine education. 100M is alot of money but then again was the donation from our beloved chem professor (forget the exact amount but it was comparable). He did it because he loved the school. At least they could have kept some reference to Poly in the rename.. Hope they do not expect any legacy gifts


  9. The beloved Chem Professor donated $175 million and he did not request the school to be named after him. Thus the reason why the Polytechnic name should live on. Due to poor management and the financial crisis that money was lost and the reason why Poly merged with NYU. The Tandons challenged NYU to raise $50 million for financial aid, how will they do so with an Alumni that is upset over the name change that wipes out our history? Poly was the second oldest private engineering school but now just oblivion. What a shame!

  10. Confused and Angry – one person’s opinion ….BPI
    I’ve been asked by friends and fellow alumni why I’m so upset with the change to NYU – Tandon School of Engineering. To be very truthful, I’m not sure why it struck such a nerve in me (and from what I see with Most Alumni). I graduated Poly in 1969 in the first Systems Engineering Class. Since then, I’ve seen the Poly name changed many times and it never effected me since no matter how you said it, it was still Poly. When it became NYU – Polytechnic School of Engineering I was almost proud – it had distinction. I changed my school on Facebook and Linkedin Profiles , I changed it on my resume and on Career sites, as did many others.
    Then one day, I get an email stating EXCITING NEWS….your Alma Mater is No More !!!!
    When I emailed back my concern, I get a response of Give us a chance, we are willing to talk about anything to make things better EXCEPT CHANGING THR NAME BACK….. Wait a second, Changing the Name was the ONLY PROBLEM I HAD WITH IT???. This was followed up with an email inviting me to the NYU Alumni Day Oct 24th – #Once a Violet always a Violet I responded No Thank you, I was Never a Violet, I graduated from Brooklyn Poly and since NYU has decided to eliminate it from existence, please remove me from your mailing list. Next step was an email from the Dean inviting me to participate in a “discussion” about the change…..it was sent to me from the TANDON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING – What a Slap in the Face. Today I got a Request for $$$$, from…. NYU-POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING….Really that’s all the Poly name is worth today, as a Ploy to get More Money????? I’m sorry, I can’t give to an institution THAT NO LONGER EXISTS……..
    On Monday Oct. 19th the Poly Dean and the President of the Polytechnic Institute Alumni Association PIAA had a “discussion” at Poly with the Alumni . There were a lot of concern about dropping the Polytechnic name. One gentleman thought that only concentrating on Engineering was a mistake, another felt that by abandoning the Polytechnic name left it vulnerable to being hijacked by an offshore “school” that could now call itself the New York Polytechnic Institute, I mentioned that the Polytechnic name “means something important” to both the Educational and Engineering Communities and to Employers, etc. I mentioned how a long time ago I changed the name of the school on my resume from Brooklyn Polytechnic to Polytechnic University. The employers gave me a glassy eyed look and then I said it used to be called Brooklyn Poly, and he said OH, GOOD (I got the job). NAMES MATTER, NOBODY KNOWS NYU – TANDON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING !!!
    The dean felt that he “agreed” with us and that he felt we should keep the Polytechnic name, maybe on a Building, or re-naming the Street….. really? I had an opportunity to talk and asked the crowd who was looking forward to standing at the Polytechnic Bus Stop or walking their dog to the Polytechnic Fire Hydrant, or eating lunch sitting on the Polytechnic Bench?
    The Poly Dean mentioned that Poly had become a Second Rate Engineering School ?????? Really???? A number of the people at the Alumni meeting mentioned that when they were at Poly (late 60s) it was a Top Rated Engineering Institute . If it has slipped that’s a shame, but wait a second, if that’s true, the downgrading must have started around the early 70s. Hmmmmm wasn’t that when Poly merged with NYU Engineering???? Interesting …………
    At the Alumni meeting, I said that in my opinion, 95% of the people in the auditorium and 95% of the people on-line only wanted the name of Polytechnic to be put back on the school. My opinion is NYU – Tandon Polytechnic School of Engineering. Another Gentleman felt that it should be NYU – Polytechnic Tandon School of Engineering. Everyone there felt positive about the $100MM “Gift” but felt robbed by the Quid Pro Quo name change. The Dean said that the Tandons Never asked to have the Polytechnic name be dropped – PERFECT THEN PUT IT BACK.
    If you agree, make your thoughts known, make sure your voice is heard. Otherwise, NYU will feel that eliminating our Poly heritage is Okay and the initial Fire Storm was quickly over. Get other Alumni involved, write to NYU, write to Poly, write to the NYC Newspapers, Educational Journals, etc.
    I believe that Mr. & Mrs. Tandon have over $100MM reasons to want the NYU – Polytechnic School of Engineering to prosper and for the Students and Alumni to be happy. Let’s compromise to NYU – Tandon Polytechnic School of Engineering and lets all bask in the glow of this very generous gift to Poly.
    Barney Giacobello
    BPI – BSSE ‘69

  11. I am truly disappointed. The name “Polytechnic” was a historical name, universally known throughout the world. It was a prestigious name and I was proud to be a Poly alumnus. By changing the name of the school to something like Tandon, the very essence of this school is gone forever, and now I am not even sure what I should write on my resume. I graduated with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Polytechnic University in 2005. In 2008 the school became “NYU Polytechnic Institute” and a few years later “NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering”, only to become “NYU Tandon School of Engineering” in 2015. Four different names in less than 10 years. These constant name changes have only diminished the prestige of the school I graduated from. When I became a Ph.D. student in September 2000, I thought I would get a degree from the prestigious Polytechnic University. The name Tandon was chosen without my approval or the approval of the thousands of people who have graduated from Poly over the last 100+ years. This is truly unjust. Poly should have just accepted the donation and perhaps renamed the library, not the entire school. If someone comes up with another similar or even greater donation, are they going to change the name of the school again? This is truly pathetic.

  12. While we are extremely grateful for the very generous gift from the Tandon;s.

    As a parent with a sophomore who was admitted to NYU Poly with all its history and with a spouse whom attended Brooklyn Tech and did CS Labs at the old Brooklyn Poly, the name change is a bit much in so few years.

    I agree with P. Hsu’s suggestion on the name being NYU – Tandon Polytechnic School of Engineering as it respects both the past and the future.

    In response to MP’s comment “Love how ungrateful these students are. They’re “outraged” because the school raised $100M help pay for their education/equipment/food/housing? They need to understand that “financial aid” doesn’t fall from the sky.”

    As a parent who is paying the full cost of an NYU Poly Tuition and Housing in NY (My son gave up 40K+ in academic scholarship’s NOT financial aid to come t0 NYU POLY). I am not sure whom you are referring to as being “ungrateful”. All the students I have met at Poly are happy to be there, and the ones on financial aid are ever more grateful, so as they realize the precious gift that they have been given.

  13. As I mentioned in several previous e-mails, the name Polytechnic should have always been part of the name of the School of Engineering of New York University. The name Polytechnic itself would have enhanced the reputation of NYU in the technological, scientific, and engineering realm. The new name detracts from NYU in these technical arenas and at the same time vaporizes into oblivion the name Polytechnic. In time, it will be as though it never existed. Why wasn’t an opinion sought from alumni and former faculty. Because NYU people knew what the response would be and so the only way to get this change done was to railroad it through. The Tandors themselves should have never allowed the name change to take place. If they either wanted or allowed their name to be represented, then NYU could have and should have named the engineering school the “Tandor Polytechnic School of Engineering of NYU”. But best of all it should have remained the “Polytechnic School of Engineering of NYU”. The name change diminishes NYU as an Engineering School and it vaporizes into oblivion the name, the recognition, and the accomplishments and achievements in the fields of science, engineering, and technology of the Polytechnic Institute. NYU has done a great disservice to both itself and to Polytechnic. In time it will see that this will be the case. The only remedy will be to back up and put the name Polytechnic back into the name of NYU’s School of Engineering. It can still be done. NYU has no idea how many future donations and wills by Polytechnic alumni and faculty will be lost as a result of this blunder by NYU. NYU claims that the Tandors did not request their name to be part of the name of the NYU Engineering School. Then why force it on them if that’s true. And if it’s not true, then it’s a bad decision on their part for the reasons mentioned above and time will prove it. Change it back to what it should be, either the “NYU Polytechnic Institute” or the “NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering” or if it must be, the “NYU Tandor Polytechnic School of Engineering”. That’s absolutely the ONLY right, sensible, justifiable, and just solution. There is no other. Get it done. Put it back. “POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE”.

  14. I am disappointed with the name change. I feel that the Poly name was an important connection for me and now it feels like the school I went to is no longer.


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