The Atlantic Philanthropies has been revealed as the mystery donor of $350 million for Cornell University’s newly won engineering and applied sciences project on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The gift will be made as part of Atlantic’s Founding Chairman program, a series of grants proposed by its founding chairman, Charles F. Feeney. The gift is the largest contribution in the university’s history and one of the largest in the history of American higher educations, says Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s office.
Cornell and its partner, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the bid yesterday to build a $2-million-plus campus slated for completion in 2043.
Feeney attended Cornell on the G.I. Bill after returning home from the U.S. Air Force. He established The Atlantic Foundation, the first and largest of The Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982, providing several grants to Cornell, which allowed the university to launch its Life Sciences initiative, the Tri-Institutional Research Program and most recently, the Applied Sciences New York City Initiative. Feeney also co-founded Duty Free Shoppers, the world’s largest luxury goods retailers. As of December 2010, Atlantic has made grants totaling more than $5.5 billion.