Chuck Feeney

Vale Chuck Feeney

News | Published on 11 Oct 2023 by Lucienne Bamford

The Kirby Institute mourns the loss of Atlantic Philanthropies Founder Charles F. Feeney, who donated $10M to support the Institute’s move from Darlinghurst to a new, purpose-built facility on UNSW's Kensington campus.

American businessman and philanthropist Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney who devoted his entire personal fortune to global philanthropy during his lifetime, died peacefully on October 9 in San Francisco, aged 92.

“Chuck Feeney was an incredibly generous man. It is not an overstatement to say that without his contributions, the Kirby Institute would not be where it is today. The world has lost an immense presence, and we send condolences to his friends and family. There is no doubt that his legacy will live on through the multitude of endeavours he supported,” said Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute.

In 2011, at the Kirby Institute’s 25th anniversary, Chuck Feeney pledged $10 million through Atlantic Philanthropies to the Kirby Institute to support the Institute’s move from Darlinghurst to a new, purpose-built facility on UNSW's Kensington campus. The move to the Kensington campus, with its state-of-the-art facilities, was crucial in the evolution of the institute.

“The Atlantic Philanthropies commitment led to a matching $10 million from private philanthropy in Australia, meaning the pledge effectively provided the impetus to raise a total of $20 million in philanthropic funding for the Kirby Institute. This is an outstanding contribution, for which we will be eternally grateful,” said Prof Kelleher.

Today, we are a globally renowned infectious disease research centre, thanks in a large part to the generosity of Mr Chuck Feeney.”

In 2011, Chuck Feeney attended the institute’s 25th anniversary celebrations in person. The Institute’s Director at the time, the late Professor David Cooper, thanked Mr Feeney for his generous support saying the US-based philanthropist's style of giving could only be described as ‘muscular’.

"Mr Feeney understands that major health threats to the social fabric need a major response and we thank him for his leadership in this field," said the late Professor Cooper who died in 2018. His insights on the potential for pandemics to dramatically disrupt daily life resonate poignantly in a COVID-19 world.

You can read more about Chuck Feeney’s incredible life and career on The Atlantic Philanthropies website.

Header image credit

David Gonski - UNSW Sydney Chancellor, Michael Kirby - Patron of the Kirby Institute, Chuck Feeney, Fred Hilmer - Former Vice Chancellor UNSW Sydney, Charles Curran - Chair St Vincent's Curran Foundation at the Kirby Institute's 25th anniversary celebrations.