News and analysis
January 09, 2017

Gifts Roundup: $7 Million for Cornell Closes Book on Charles Feeney’s Giving

Lindsay France/Cornell Marketing Group
Incoming Cornell University students install fence posts at a horse-rescue center in Newfield, N.Y. Community service is part of the Cornell Tradition fellowship program, which retail magnate and "giving while living" advocate Charles Feeney made the focus of his final charitable donation.
A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Stony Brook University

Lalit and Kavita Bahl gave more than $10.2 million to establish the Kavita and Lalit Bahl Center for Metabolomics and Imaging, a cancer-research institute.

The money will also go toward hiring four new cancer researchers.

Mr. Bahl is a senior research scientist at Renaissance Technologies, an investment-management firm. The couple gave Stony Brook $3.5 million in 2014 for the purchase of a cyclotron, a device used in PET scanning, a technique that allows molecular imaging within the human body.

Cornell University

Retail magnate Charles Feeney gave $7 million through his Atlantic Philanthropies for the Cornell Tradition, a fellowship program that provides work and scholarships to civic-minded undergraduates.

Mr. Feeney founded the Duty-Free Shoppers store chain (now DFS Group). He helped create the Cornell Tradition with a previous gift of $7 million in 1982.

The donation marks the completion of Atlantic Philanthropies’ grant making, which totaled $8 billion over 35 years. Nearly $1 billion of the foundation’s spending went to Cornell, Mr. Feeney’s alma mater. Atlantic’s board decided in 2002 to disburse the foundation’s assets by the end of 2016 and cease operations by 2020.

University of Iowa

Ted and Deb Pacha pledged $5 million to back renovations to Kinnick Stadium’s north end zone.

Mr. Pacha started Hawkeye Medical Supply, a health-care distribution company, and is the president of consulting firm Theo Resources. His first job, at age 10, was selling soda at University of Iowa football games. The couple has been donating to the university’s athletics department since 1974.

Northwestern University

University trustees Tim Sullivan and Jeff Ubben and their spouses, Sue Sullivan and Laurie Ubben, pledged a total of $3 million to endow the men’s basketball head-coaching position and pay for operations of the basketball program.

Mr. Sullivan manages the health-care practice at Madison Dearborn Partners, a private-equity firm.

Mr. Ubben founded hedge fund ValueAct Capital. He earned an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 1987. Laurie Ubben co-founded the Bird School of Music in San Francisco and produced the upcoming animated film Loving Vincent.

University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point

Gerald and Helen Stephens gave $1 million to create and endow the Gerald and Helen Stephens Professorship in Wildlife.

Mr. Stephens founded the RLI Corporation, a property-insurance firm. The couple’s late son, Doug, was a wildlife-management student at the university. He died unexpectedly less than a year after graduating in May 1991.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.

Send an email to Maria Di Mento.