Daniela Retelny graduated with a BS (CALS) in Information Science in 2011. She and her family contributed to the Gates Hall project naming campaign and has the Retelny Family Conference Room on the first floor named after them. 

Why it was important to give to the Gates Hall project?

When I first heard about the Gates Hall project, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. As an undergraduate in the Information Science program at Cornell, I spent a lot of time at 301 College Avenue, which is where the Information Science program was located at the time. Not only was the space at 301 College off campus, it was also quite small, which constrained collaborative and creative activities among students and faculty. The Gates Hall project had the potential to overcome these challenges and open new doors for the Information Science program at Cornell. Therefore, it was extremely important to me to give to the Gates Hall project to help make the building a reality and invest in the future of CIS. Giving to Gates Hall helped create an incredible new building at Cornell that will undoubtedly shape the future of the Computing and Information Science program. It was also very important to me to give back to a program and faculty that had done so much for me as well.

Why Gates Hall is important to the university and CIS?

Gates Hall is important to the university and CIS for a variety of reasons. For the university, Gates Hall represents more than just the home of the Computer Science and Information Science Departments. In fact, the departments, research labs and variety of other groups located within Gates Hall are inherently interdisciplinary. As a result, the activities taking place at Gates Hall touch on many issues that are relevant to the arts and sciences, the university, and society. By providing a space that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, diversity, openness and learning, Gates Hall aligns closely with Cornell’s mission and values. For CIS, Gates Hall highlights the importance of the Computing and Information Sciences program at Cornell and provides an amazing community and environment that will allow CIS to continue to grow and evolve for years to come. Furthermore, the building is designed in such way that will allow it to adapt to the needs of students and faculty in the future, which is extremely important given the speed at which things change in the technology industry.

Thoughts about the building (or the space they named).

Gates Hall truly exceeded my expectations. The location of the building is terrific and the exterior is stunning. As I walked around the building, I felt right at home and kept thinking about how amazing it would have been to have had Gates Hall when I was at Cornell. Nonetheless, I am glad to have been able to contribute to the project and absolutely loved seeing the students and faculty taking advantage of the breadth of amenities the building has to offer. I was also quite impressed with how the Retelny Family Conference Room turned out. In addition to an incredible view of the baseball field, the space has the latest technology and can accommodate many different types of events, including colloquiums, faculty meetings and social events. I felt very proud to see the conference room in use frequently by students and faculty. It gives me the sense that I am still there contributing and being a part of the program. Taken together, Gates Hall symbolizes a future of innovation, collaboration and creativity at Cornell both in terms of the building’s cutting edge design along with the range of interdisciplinary skills and expertise that are cultivated and shared inside.

What you are doing now since your graduation from Cornell?

After Cornell, I went straight to graduate school. I am currently a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. My research falls at the intersection of human-computer interaction and organizational behavior and explores themes related to collaboration, crowdsourcing and global work. For the last several years, I have also served as a Product Manager at Wellcoin, a health and wellness startup. This summer I will be interning on the UX Research team at Facebook.