12/20/2011 11:58 am ET

Charles Feeney Revealed As Cornell's $350 Million Donor For NYC Tech Campus

The donor behind Cornell's record setting, $350 million gift has been revealed to be businessman and philanthropist Charles Feeney, an alumni from the university's class of 1956.

Feeney's donation, made through his charity Atlantic Philanthropies, is Cornell's single largest in its history and proved to be the critical push that ultimately won Cornell a $100 million bid to build an unprecedented technology and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island slated for completion in 2043.

The 80-year old alumni from the university's School of Management made his fortune building the Duty Free Shoppers Group and has been known for his philanthropy.

Earlier this year, Feeney became the 59th signatory of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet's effort, the Giving Pledge, which aims to encourage the wealthy to committing at least half of their wealth to philanthropic purposes.

Cornell officials disclosed that over the years, Atlantic Philanthropie's donations to the school had already totaled $600 million.

President David Skorton of Cornell praised the significance of Feeney's generous contribution:

The Atlantic Philanthropies' generous $350 million educational gift will not only anchor the academic mission Cornell and its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, are undertaking in the city, but it will also prove to be a key milestone in the economic future for all New Yorkers.

Feeney said in a statement that his donation would help build a "once in a generation opportunity" for both Cornell and New York City in order to create groundbreaking opportunities on a "transformational scale."

News of the donation followed Stanford University's shocking announcement that it was dropping its own bid last Friday. Both Stanford and Cornell were widely perceived as the two frontrunners vying for the coveted proposal to build the "genius" school.

The WSJ reported that a part of Stanford's decision to withdraw from the competition stemmed from a speech made by Mayor Bloomberg at MIT a few weeks prior, where Bloomberg touted that Stanford was "desperate" to win.