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Japanese Firm Pledges $1.25 Million to GSD

By Evelyn Chien

The Toda Corporation, a Japanese construction firm, has pledged a $1.25 million gift to the Graduate School of Design (GSD) to be used for upgrading the school's computer system.

The grant comes at a time when the GSD is suffering from a serious budget deficit. The school recently laid off a number of employees in an effort to cut costs, but President Derek C. Bok says it is unlikely the school will take other drastic measures.

The grant, which has been in the works for several months, will be paid in five installments, starting this academic year.

Erin Hoffer, director of computer resources at the GSD, said the funds will help the school fulfill its "commitment to developing resources for students in state-of-the-art computers."

Computers, she said, are key to the school's three major areas of study: architecture, urban planning and design and landscape. But such functions require constant upgrading of the system so that students have access to the most advanced methods in their field.

Hoffer said the upgrading promised by the funds is "just part of the evolution for computers in the GSD," and will now be able to "move a little faster."

Students use the GSD's computers for a variety of different design techniques, such as animation, mapping, and developing models for proposed buildings. The computer system, which consists of about 40 terminals, is also used for word-processing, programming and spreadsheets.

Hoffer said that the computers, used by nearly all the student body, are a staple of the educational program at the GSD. About 350 of the school's 400 students are signed up to use the terminals this semester.

The grant money will also go to faculty salaries and benefits for teachers involved with the computer system.

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