In an effort to stay competitive with other top-notch universities, Yale University announced earlier this week that it will spend more than $500 million on upgrading its science programs and facilities.
That amount is more than twice that of a similar initiative launched at Harvard last spring.
With Yale is known for its humanities--only one-quarter of Yale students major in science or engineering--the initiative, announced on Wednesday, may serve to give Yale a reputation for its sciences as well.
"I regard the rebuilding of the sciences as up there with the most important initiatives in the modern history of the university," Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead told the Yale Daily News. "It's not a little bandage. We're advancing science across the board."
About 40 percent of the money will be for the creation of five new science buildings. The remainder will be spent to enhance current facilities.
The announcement coincides with a decision by John Malone, a 1963 Yale graduate in engineering, to donate $24 million for a new engineering building at Yale.
"This ambitious plan for science and engineering is a crucial element in Yale's strategy to remain among the very small number of universities that are considered the finest in the world," said Yale President Richard C. Levin in a press release.
Here in Cambridge, Harvard is also in the midst of a $200 million project to upgrade science facilities. Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles last spring earmarked some of those funds for a new center in genomics and proteomics and a center for imaging and mesoscale Structures--areas considered to be some of the most rapidly expanding in science.
According to Sally A. Baker, director of communications for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, last year's infusion of funds into the sciences demonstrates Harvard's continued emphasis on cutting edge research.
"Harvard believes that science research at this level is very important," Baker said. "It's great to see that other institutions believe this as well."
Although Yale plans to spend more than twice what Harvard does on science improvements, it doesn't mean that Harvard views science as less important, Baker argued.
"Yale by reputation is more known for its humanities," Baker said. "As for the difference in spending, you have to look at the starting point. Harvard may have been farther ahead in spending in the past."
Once Harvard's renovations and construction in the sciences are complete, Harvard's facilities will be comparable to the best in the world, Baker said.
According to a press release from Harvard, "no major university can remain in the forefront of knowledge development without investing in the sciences."
Harvard's $200 million science initiative is the last of three major spending programs Harvard has undertaken recently.
Baker said the first was focused on the humanities, which included the refurbishing of the Barker Center and Boylston Hall and the current renovations to Widener Library.
The second, involving the social sciences, also involved the renovations of several key buildings.
Baker said that Yale's increase in science spending probably won't have any effect on Harvard's admissions yield, which currently is around 80 percent.
"Our investments help insure that we can be very competitive in attracting the best students regardless of what other schools do," she said.