(Photo of Cornell's Arts Quad, courtesy of the university)

ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University announced Thursday morning that they would be renaming East Avenue, one of the campus’ main thoroughfares, after alumnus and benefactor Charles F. “Chuck” Feeney.

In the announcement, the school called Feeney its most generous donor, citing that he gave almost $1 billion to the university over the course of 40 years. The majority of that money was given anonymously, which is why there is nothing else named after Feeney on the Cornell campus. Feeney graduated from the school in 1956.

In total, Feeney donated around $8 billion to universities and nonprofits globally, as a founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies. The formal renaming of the street and a subsequent celebration is planned for some time in the spring, when Feeney will turn 90 years old. The street will include a “descriptive marker sharing Feeney’s story.”

“Now, by renaming East Avenue as Feeney Way, university leaders have found a way to recognize his generous and unprecedented giving across Cornell and – most important to Feeney – inspire future generations of Cornellians to give back to their communities in whatever way they can,” the school said in a press release.

Feeney ended The Atlantic Philathropies in September after having given away his entire fortune, according to the school. Cornell is working in conjunction with the City of Ithaca to make the change official.

“I am humbled by this honor,” Feeney said in the release. “Cornell opened promising avenues for me. The Hotel School nurtured my instincts and my interests in international business opportunities. It was not too big a leap from selling sandwiches for hefty margins at Big Red games to selling cars and luxury items to international travelers. More importantly, Cornell’s culture of affording any person an opportunity for study in any area of interest informed my commitment to ‘give while living’ – to use wealth to create opportunities for others, especially for those who have not historically had those opportunities. I hope Feeney Way will help awaken and nurture that spirit in those who walk Cornell’s paths.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com