Moody’s: Cornell’s Tech Campus Represents ‘Heightened Credit Risk’

Moody’s warned that Cornell University's plan to build a high-tech graduate school in New York City comes with risks that could jeopardize their credit rating in the future.

While Cornell University and its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, have unveiled plans for the campus, with an estimated cost of $2 billion, Moody’s noted that “funding sources and full scope of future phases are uncertain.” If funding issues, such as cost overruns emerge, Moody’s warned it could result in a credit downgrade.

For now, though, Moody’s has not only affirmed Cornell’s credit rating but improved its outlook, from “negative” to “stable,” citing a “rebound in philanthropy, ongoing focus on expense containment and improved operating performance in FY 2010 and FY 2011.”

Joanne DeStefano, vice president for Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Cornell University, said, "Looking at the full report, we are gratified to see that Moody’s acknowledges our very strong market position as an Ivy League private university with robust student demand and a very high level of research activity, and our strong performance in fundraising.”