The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founding chairman, Chuck Feeney '56, were behind the $350 million gift -- initially announced as from an anonymous donor -- made in support of Cornell's New York City Tech Campus.
The joint proposal by Cornell and partner The Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology was named the winner of the nearly yearlong competition at a press conference Dec. 19 held by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The anonymous gift, which lent crucial financial support to Cornell's proposal, had been announced Dec. 16.
"Cornell University and its president, David J. Skorton, are honored to be able to confirm for all of those who support the vision of a transformative applied sciences and technology campus in New York City that The Atlantic Philanthropies and its founding chairman, Charles F. Feeney, is the generous and forward-thinking donor who is helping make that vision a reality," university officials announced in a statement Dec. 20. "The Atlantic Philanthropies' generous $350 million educational gift will not only anchor the academic mission Cornell and The Technion are undertaking in the city, but it will also prove to be a key milestone in the economic future for all New Yorkers."
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, together with the city of New York, to create economic and educational opportunity on a transformational scale," Feeney said.
Atlantic's president and CEO, Christopher G. Oechsli, said: "This grant commitment is squarely rooted in the best traditions of Atlantic's support for bold investments in health, science and education at select institutions. Not only is this a game-changing investment in higher education, the Applied Sciences NYC initiative will create jobs, benefit thousands of K-12 students and further bolster Atlantic's programs to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and vulnerable."
Between 1982 and 2011, Feeney's gifts and commitments through Atlantic to Cornell, which he originally made anonymously, totaled approximately $600 million. His philanthropic efforts became known after his authorized biography was published in 2007.
"Cornell University has benefited immensely from Chuck Feeney's extraordinary generosity over the span of several decades," Skorton said in 2010 when Feeney was named the recipient of the School of Hotel Administration's Icon of the Industry Award.
Skorton noted that "in his own quiet way," Feeney had 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," Skorton said.
Feeney's and The Atlantic Philanthropies' support to Cornell, say university officials, has made it possible for the university to maintain its need-blind admissions policy; recruit and retain faculty in key academic areas, including the life sciences, biological sciences and social sciences; launch new living-learning communities on North and West campuses; and pursue a wide range of other academic and campus life-related initiatives.
The foundation's first major gift to the university, made in 1983, established the Cornell Tradition program, which has since become a model for similar work and service scholarship programs around the country.
The Atlantic Philanthropies is one of the most generous philanthropic funds in the world, making gifts to institutions and organizations worldwide totaling more than $5.5 billion. By 2020, Feeney and his associates at the foundation plan to spend down the remainder of its endowment, more than $2 billion -- an unprecedented example of Feeney's "giving while living" philosophy.