Skip to main content

Charles Feeney to receive Cornell Icon of the Industry Award

Resource type: News

Cornell University |

Ithaca, NY – Charles F. Feeney, co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) and founding chairman of The Atlantic Philanthropies, will receive the 2010 Icon of the Industry Award from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (SHA) at a gala dinner in New York City on June 8, 2010. At the event, Feeney will be honored for his lifetime achievements as an international business leader in the travel industry as well as his extraordinary philanthropic contributions.

“Chuck Feeney’s professional achievements and humanitarian efforts have benefited both the hospitality industry and the world,” said Michael Johnson, the school’s dean and E. M. Statler Professor of Hotel Administration. “His commitment to philanthropy has made an enormous impact at Cornell as well as in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people globally, and we look forward to honoring him with the Cornell Icon of the Industry Award.”

Feeney co-founded Duty Free Shoppers in 1960 in Honolulu and Hong Kong, but DFS quickly become a global retail empire and grew to be the largest travel retailer in the world. In 1996, Feeney sold his interest in DFS to LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

In 1982, Feeney created The Atlantic Foundation, a charitable organization charged with distributing the greater part of his wealth to a variety of institutions throughout the world. That organization evolved into The Atlantic Philanthropies, an international grant-making foundation that focuses on making lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people through four program areas: aging, children and youth, reconciliation and human rights and population health, in the United States, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia, and Bermuda. Since its founding, the foundation has given away more than $5 billion, and Atlantic’s giving in Vietnam and Australia makes it the largest funder in those countries.

Through his Founding Chairman grants at The Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney has led the foundation’s support for facilitating and accelerating the transfer of knowledge and research among medical researchers and university leaders in Australia, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, and Vietnam. Over the past twenty years, Feeney has provided support in this area and focused on developing research capacity at existing institutions, forging collaboration across universities and research institutes, and supporting efforts to bring laboratory discoveries to clinical trial in order to get treatments to the people in need.

In 2008, Atlantic made a $125 million Founding Chairman grant to the University of San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center to build children’s, women’s, and cancer hospitals at its Mission Bay campus. In 2009, Atlantic made three Founding Chairman grants in Australia, totaling AU$102.5 million, to the Translational Research Institute Queensland (TRIQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and Queensland Institute of Medical Research. The commitment was the single largest philanthropic gift to higher education and medical research in the history of Australia.

Feeney is a 1956 graduate of the School of Hotel Administration, a life member of the Cornell University Council, and a member of the SHA Dean’s Advisory Board. He was named a Cornell Presidential Councillor in 2004.

The inaugural Cornell Icon of the Industry dinner, which was held last year and honored J. W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., was the largest event on the school’s calendar. Current sponsors of this year’s event are Café Spice, Hsyndicate, the Hotel Yearbook, JDA Software Group, Lord & Taylor, Philips Hospitality, PhoCusWright, Questex Media, and Southworth Development LLC. For more details about the event and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joe Strodel, Jr., director of corporate and foundation affairs, at or 607.255.4646.

For more information: