Chuck Feeney’s Latest Donation

Chuck Feeney, philanthropist.

By Tara Dougherty, Music Editor
February / March 2012

Irish America’s most beloved billionaire philanthropist has done it again. Irish America Hall of Famer and founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles F. Feeney is the man behind a massive project to build a new house of graduate learning on New York’s Roosevelt Island.

The new high-tech science learning center will be a branch of Cornell University. Cornell announced in December that a $350 million donation was made by an anonymous donor to fund this extensive project. Atlantic Philanthropies later confirmed that it was Feeney behind the largest donation in Cornell’s history.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long championed the project, which would expand efforts to make New York City a technological center of the world. The hope is that this university and other New York universities will expand to attract the best and brightest students to pave the way for science and technology in the coming decades.

Feeney, a graduate of Cornell, said in his statement concerning the gift, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create economic and educational opportunity on a transformational scale.”

The building of the center is estimated to create 20,000 construction jobs. Once opened, the school is expected to create a multitude of jobs and to foster opportunities for the technology industry in New York.

Feeney, known for his secretive donations, made his billions with his Duty Free Shoppers Group.  The man owns neither a house nor a car and has made a commitment to disperse his fortune through Atlantic Philanthropies. Feeney was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame last March along with President Bill Clinton, Michael Flatley and others. An intensely private individual, Feeney’s gifts often remain anonymous for years. This newest donation may prove to be one of the longest standing testaments to Feeney’s generosity and dedication to fostering education.

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