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Enriching a University to Strengthen Learning and Research

Resource type: Grantee Story

Students attend 2012 commencement ceremony. Photo: Cornell University
Students attend 2012 commencement ceremony. Photo: Cornell University

The nearly $1 billion investment in Cornell University made by Atlantic and its Founding Chairman has enriched the experience of students and faculty on campus; strengthened its academics, research and athletics; and enabled the university to expand its role in the applied sciences, which will invigorate the economy of New York. These are a few highlights of Atlantic’s giving to the Ithaca, New York-based university.

Supporting Students

Ensuring that the university’s doors are open to all deserving students, regardless of their financial means, motivated Atlantic to provide important scholarship support.

The Cornell Tradition Program ($33.6 million)

  • Since 1983, has provided an estimated $40 million in student loan replacement for 4,315 former and 500 current students, combining paid work, community service and scholarship
  • Inspired other donors to create 263 named fellowships, supporting 374 students each year.

Scholarship Challenge Campaign ($50 million)

  • Generated $150 million in other donors’ support for undergraduate scholarships.

School of Hotel Administration ($16.5 million)

Atlantic’s support created an enhanced learning environment for new generations of hospitality professionals. The school:

  • Built the Statler Hotel and J. Willard Marriott Executive Education Center, among the finest hospitality teaching facilities in the world. Now an AAA, four-diamond rated property, its staff welcome visitors from around the globe
  • Constructed four modern amphitheatre lecture halls and ensured that they had leading-edge instructional technology
  • Created the Center for Hospitality Research, a pre-eminent source of new knowledge related to the industry.

“Because of his (Atlantic’s Founder Chuck Feeney) deep concern for disadvantaged children, and the elderly and the marginalised, he has funded schools and hospitals in Viet Nam, worked to combat poverty in South Africa, supported peace initiatives in Northern Ireland and he has transformed his alma mater…. No other individual in our history even begins to match his giving to his alma mater, within the scope of broad worldwide philanthropy.”
– Cornell President David Skorton

Supporting Faculty

Atlantic’s support enabled Cornell to fund world-class labs to recruit new science faculty.

Academic Initiatives ($55.8 million)

  • Enabled the president and provost to hire 70 new faculty members in areas of strategic importance.

Campaign to Create the Future Challenges ($50 million)

  • Created three challenges to encourage alumni, parents and friends to support endowments
  • Generated matching gifts from others to endow a total of 77 new faculty positions, with 436 donor gifts adding $31.8 million to the endowment.

Transforming Life on Campus

With $160.8 million in support from Atlantic, Cornell enacted a sweeping initiative to incorporate academics into residential life on two campuses: one for first-year students and another for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

North Campus

By housing all freshman students at the renovated North Campus, the university enriched the first-year experience with mentoring, academic tutoring and writing seminars in a residential environment.

West Campus

By incorporating academics into residential life, Cornell created an entirely new way of living and learning for sophomores, juniors and seniors on the rebuilt West Campus. Over eight years, nearly 10,000 students and hundreds of faculty have interacted in a residential setting dedicated to learning.

Developing Sustainable Food Systems

The Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development ($15 million) improves the lives of the poor around the world by developing sustainable food systems, including:

  • System of Rice Intensification, which increases the yield of irrigated rice by 50-100 per cent. Rice is the major source of calories for half the world’s population and the single largest source of employment for rural people.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Tech Leaders and Entrepreneurs

The Cornell NYC Tech ($350 million) applied sciences and engineering campus will bolster the entire field of applied science and the economy of New York City. Cornell anticipates the campus will:

  • Create an estimated 20,000 short-term construction jobs, 38,000 permanent jobs and 600 spin-off companies
  • Generate more than $23 billion in overall economic activity over the next three decades, as well as $1.4 billion in additional tax revenue.

In addition to these highlights, Atlantic has also given Cornell another $200 million for various academic and campus projects over the years.


Giving While Living: Marking 30 Years of Achievements: 1982–2012

> Read more stories of impact in our 30th anniversary publication

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