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NYC awards dinner to honor hotel industry icons

More than 800 guests will gather for the second annual Cornell Icon of the Industry Awards Dinner June 8 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The event will honor Chuck Feeney '56 as the 2010 Icon of the Industry and Solomon Kerzner as the recipient of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship's 2010 Hospitality Innovator Award. Feeney is co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers and founding chairman of The Atlantic Philanthropies; Kerzner is founder, CEO and chairman of the board of Kerzner International.

The awards dinner features a gathering of the world's most influential hospitality and travel leaders coming together to support scholarships and programs at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration (SHA). The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. The dinner and awards ceremony will follow.

Feeney co-founded Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) in 1960, and it quickly became a global retail empire and grew to be the largest travel retailer in the world. In 1996, Feeney sold his interest in DFS to LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

In 1982 Feeney created The Atlantic Foundation, a charitable organization charged with distributing the greater part of his wealth. That organization evolved into The Atlantic Philanthropies, an international grant-making foundation that focuses on making lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people through four program areas: aging, children and youth, reconciliation and human rights, and population health, in the United States, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia and Bermuda.

President David Skorton, along with J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr., inaugural winner of the Icon Award, will co-present the award to Feeney.

"Cornell University has benefited immensely from Chuck Feeney's extraordinary generosity over the span of several decades," said Skorton. "Since 1982, in his own quiet way, Chuck has given more than $600 million to Cornell and has established himself as the university's largest donor. Other than Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, I can think of few other individuals who have made such a profound and lasting impact on the university."

"Chuck's influence on the hospitality industry has been wide-ranging and long-lasting," said Marriott. "While his mark on retail travel is unmistakable, his philanthropic endeavors are arguably more impressive still. His foundation has donated more than $5 billion worldwide, making his organization the largest donor in both Vietnam and Australia. I consider Chuck a good friend, a shrewd businessman, a generous benefactor, and the ideal recipient of this year's Icon of the Industry award."

Kerzner will receive the Hospitality Innovator Award for his visionary work redefining the scope and scale of destination resort and casino development and operation throughout much of the world. With a career spanning more than four decades, he founded both of South Africa's largest hotel groups, played a pivotal role in the development of tourism industries in Mauritius and the Bahamas, and continues to develop industry-leading projects in unique destinations throughout the world. He also manages six of the top-rated luxury resort properties in the world under his One&Only brand in the Bahamas, Mexico, Mauritius, the Maldives, Dubai and South Africa.

SHA Dean and E.M. Statler Professor Michael Johnson will co-present the innovator award with Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, as well as co-chairman of the board and member of the Office of the President of Loews Corp. He also holds positions as chairman emeritus of the United States Travel Association (U.S. Travel), a travel industry lobbying group; trustee of Tufts University; treasurer of the New York Giants Football Team; and board member of the Tribeca Film Institute.

The event has attracted more than 60 sponsors, according to Joe Strodel Jr., director of corporate and foundation affairs at the School of Hotel Administration.

Members of the Cornell community are invited to attend. RSVP by June 3 at http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/events/icon or contact Liz Flint at es232@cornell.edu. Admission prices are $1,000 for VIP seating; $575 for premier seating; and $275 for regular seating.

For additional information, visit the event's official website: http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/industry/events/awardsdinner.html.

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Joe Schwartz