University of Michigan to build new computer science building with $25M gift

Left to Right: Ashley Leinweber, Larry Leinweber, Claudia Babiarz, David Leinweber, and Jessica Leinweber. (The Leinweber Foundation)

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan has received a $25 million gift from the Leinweber Foundation to help fund the building of a brand-new state-of-the-art facility on North Campus.

Named after software entrepreneur Larry Leinweber, the 163,000-square-foot building will be titled the Leinweber Computer Science and Information Building.

The U-M Board of Regents voted on the building’s name on Oct. 21 in recognition of the donation. The new building will bring together the School of Information and the Computer Science and Engineering Division of Michigan Engineering under the same roof.

U-M hopes the move will strengthen the “collaboration between the two disciplines to develop breakthrough technologies, conduct innovative research, and facilitate an innovative learning environment for students,” according to a news release.

“Michigan has a longstanding reputation as one of the leaders and best in computer science and information,” Leinweber said in a statement. “We hope this new gift will further advance both of these fields and amplify U-M’s impact by bringing some of the brightest minds in engineering and information science together in one collaborative setting.”

The School of Information and Michigan Engineering have a long history of collaboration, and both schools have seen enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs quadruple over the past decade.

“The Leinweber Foundation gift is a tremendous example of U-M’s ability to unite philanthropy and multidisciplinary strength in the service of our students and innovative research that keeps us on the forefront of discovery,” U-M President Mark Schlissel said in a statement.

The gift will go toward the $145 million needed to construct the new facility. Currently, the School of Information and Michigan Engineering located on different campuses.

The new facility will feature open spaces for groups, flexible classrooms, labs, collaboration spaces and more.

Construction plans for the facility will be reviewed by the U-M Board of Regents later this year.

“Co-location is essential to seed and sustain high impact interdisciplinary work,” Thomas Finholt, professor and dean of the School of Information said in a statement. “By joining faculty and students from multiple disciplinary backgrounds in one place, we will accelerate, enrich and increase the boundary-spanning interactions that produce innovative paths of research.

“Thanks to the gift from the Leinweber Foundation, we’ll be better able to solve the problems of the future by combining insights across disciplines in new ways.”

“Technology is becoming more dependent on information—our products are getting smarter and require programming that is human-focused and free from bias,” Alec Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering said in a statement.

“By bringing these important fields into collaboration, this incredible investment from the Leinweber Foundation will help Michigan remain not only a top-flight university, but one that draws upon a range of disciplines and perspectives to ensure that the innovation closes societal gaps and has a positive impact on all populations.”

The new building will also be the first to transition to geothermal heating and cooling systems -- a key factor in helping the university meet its carbon neutrality goal.

Leinweber and his wife, Claudia Barbiarz, are longtime supporters of U-M programs and students across numerous disciplines, including Michigan Engineering, the Ross School of Business, the Medical School and the College or Literature, Science and the Arts.

In 2013, they created Michigan Engineering’s Leinweber Software Scholars Program and in 2017 established LSA’s Leinweber Center for Theoretical Physics.

Leinweber is the founder and CEO of New World Systems Corp. based in Troy, Michigan.

Two of the couple’s children, David and Ashley, are both U-M alums.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.