Cornell president's statement regarding charitable support

Cornell President Hunter Rawlings today issued the following statement in response to news reports that a prominent Cornell alumnus, Charles F. Feeney, and his family were the principals in the formation, in the early 1980s, of two significant international philanthropies, The Atlantic Foundation and The Atlantic Trust. The organizations will be the recipients of substantial proceeds arising from the recently announced sale of Duty Free Shoppers to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Feeney received his degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 1956.

"For more than a decade, Cornell has received major assistance from certain anonymous donors, two of whom we now understand to be these charities. The Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company, Inc. (APS), has provided management services to these organizations in their interactions with the university. The support of APS's clients has been a key factor in the university's continuing drive for excellence across many programs," said Rawlings. "Their long-term perspective has stimulated the creation of nationally recognized, innovative programs such as The Cornell Tradition and the internationally acclaimed Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD)."

The Cornell Tradition is a contemporary expression of the vision of Ezra Cornell, the university's founder. The program recognizes and rewards 600 outstanding undergraduates who demonstrate significant work experience, campus and/or community service, and academic achievement by providing up to $2,500 annually in loan reductions. The Cornell Tradition was established with an initial gift by APS's clients and is now being endowed through gifts from alumni and friends. Since its inception in 1982, more than $14 million in student loans have been replaced with Tradition Fellowships.

CIIFAD, which is based in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was established to mobilize, coordinate, strengthen and apply the knowledge and human resources from across the whole university, from all disciplines, departments and colleges as well as colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and overseas, to solving problems of sustainable agricultural and rural development in Third World countries. CIIFAD is based on the belief that sustainable development, over the long run, enhances environmental quality and the resource base on which agriculture and other productive activities depend.

"As importantly, the support provided by these charities has also provided major momentum for the university's recently completed capital campaign, through three innovative challenge programs that encouraged alumni giving to endowment," Rawlings continued. These gifts total more than $50 million.

Inge T. Reichenbach, vice president for alumni affairs and development, added: "These generous gifts were made anonymously, and Cornell has respected the desire of the donors for confidentiality. However, in light of the considerable attention that the Duty Free Shoppers transaction has generated, The Atlantic Foundation and The Atlantic Trust, through APS, have authorized this limited release of information on their giving to Cornell."

Rawlings concluded, "The entire Cornell community is grateful for the strong support that these philanthropic organizations have provided to Cornell over these many years. Their help has been both substantial and well-targeted. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the years to come, and we will continue to respect their desire for confidentiality."

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