Three Cornellians honored for their philanthropic work
By Joe Wilensky
Three Cornellians are among eight recipients of the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, awarded to families and individuals worldwide who have dedicated their private wealth to the public good.
The Carnegie Corp. of New York announced the recipients, who include Charles “Chuck” Feeney ’56 and Irwin ’54 and Joan Jacobs ’54. Another honoree has a Cornell connection as well: New York philanthropist Richard L. Menschel, husband of Ronay Menschel ’64.
The medals will be presented Oct. 15 at the New York Public Library.
Feeney is founding chairman of The Atlantic Philanthropies, which, by the time it completes grantmaking in 2016, will have given away nearly $8 billion to promote education, human rights, science and health care around the world. Since 1982, Feeney’s gifts and commitments through Atlantic to Cornell have totaled almost $1 billion and have helped launch programs, support scholarships and enable expansions and campus transformations. In 2011, Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies gave $350 million in support of the Cornell Tech campus in New York City – a gift that was critical in advancing Cornell’s bid for the campus and ensuring its rapid growth and impact.
Feeney’s “giving while living” philosophy helped to inspire The Giving Pledge, an effort by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage America’s wealthiest people to commit to giving away the majority of their money to charity during their lifetimes. Feeney received the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy in 2014.
Irwin Mark Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs, a strong proponent for the arts and education in San Diego, nationally and globally, created the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, a centerpiece of the Cornell Tech campus, with a $133 million gift in 2013. They have a long history of supporting Cornell, including the Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs Scholars and Fellows Programs and the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professorship, all in the College of Engineering, as well as the Joan K. and Irwin M. Jacobs Professorship and Graduate Fellowship and the Jacobs Cornell Tradition Fellowship in the College of Human Ecology.
Irwin Jacobs is a former member of the Cornell University Council, and Joan Jacobs served on the President’s Council of Cornell Women. In recognition of their distinguished service to Cornell, the Jacobses were elected Presidential Councillors in 2005.
Through their leadership and philanthropy, Richard and Ronay Menschel have been strong advocates for the arts and humanities – on Cornell’s Ithaca campus as well as at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell Tech. In addition, they also have supported innovation in teaching and scholarships, as well as pediatric health care.
“Through the Carnegie Medal, the members of the Carnegie family of institutions seek to celebrate the importance of philanthropy in society and to honor the exemplary, longstanding commitment demonstrated by the recipients,” said Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corp. of New York president. “These extraordinary individuals and families reflect and carry on the vision of philanthropy embodied in the ideals of Andrew Carnegie, who believed that the rich are trustees of their wealth and are under a moral obligation to reinvest it in society in ways that promote the progress of society.”
Other recipients of the 2015 award are Menschel’s brother Robert, also a New York philanthropist; Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist; environmental philanthropists Jeremy and Hanne Grantham; the Hass family, Pennsylvania philanthropists; Jon M. Huntsman Sr., founder of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City; and David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group and chairman of the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The award was established in 2001 and honorees were named every two years. Beginning this year, the Carnegie Corp. of New York announced, it will be awarded annually. Previous recipients have included Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Cornell trustee Ratan Tata ’59, B.Arch ’62, and his family.