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Chuck Feeney

Chuck Feeney

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Chuck Feeney, a man who knows the value of hard work, rides the subway, taxes taxis, and buys clothes off the rack. He flies coach. He owns no real estate. He has five children who worked summers as hotel maids, cashiers and waiters. And he's given a lot of his millions to Ireland in philanthropic gestures.

He has carved out four categories of giving.

When I first came to Ireland, I was impressed by the single-minded purpose shown by the Department of Finance to fund third level research. It turns out that a lot of that funding was strong-armed by Feeney who had pledged matching funds for capital construction in education and research fellowships for fourth level programmes. During my first six years in Ireland, Feeney pumped nearly $1 bn into the third level system here. He has given $600 million to Cornell University in the States. He's funding a new University of California Medical Research Center in San Francisco. He's donated to Operation Smile, a Virginia-based charity that performs free surgery for children with facial deformities.

I feel small compared to this man.