Campus Way Renamed The Feeney Way by UCSF

From the University of California, San Francisco website, December 7, 2023. Photograph: Chuck Feeney meeting Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute at UCSF.

UCSF will rename Campus Way, a primary thoroughfare on UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, in honor of longtime UCSF volunteer and philanthropist Chuck Feeney, Chancellor Sam Hawgood announced at the State of the University address today.

Over the next year, street signs, pavement markers, pole banners, and a commemorative monument will begin to reflect The Feeney Way name. Feeney passed away on October 9, 2023, at the age of 93.

Read UCSF’s tribute to Charles “Chuck” Feeney here.

For the past two decades, Feeney acted as a visionary champion for the Mission Bay campus. He saw the potential and became the catalyst, convincing others to join him in transforming vacant lots into a thriving center of next-generation science.

“Mission Bay would not exist without Chuck Feeney,” Hawgood said. “He envisioned what this campus and this neighborhood could be before any of us could imagine such a transformation. Mission Bay vaulted UCSF into the highest echelons of biomedical research and revitalized an entire quadrant of the city.”

One of UCSF’s most generous donors, Feeney’s philanthropy included gifts to support numerous areas throughout the university, including:

  • Cardiovascular Research Institute
  • Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building
  • Neurosciences (Sandler Neurosciences Center, Global Brain Health Institute, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building, Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building)
  • UCSF Medical Center and Mission Hall on the Mission Bay campus
  • Student scholarships and faculty recruitment

In 2012, Feeney received the UCSF Medal, and in 2015, the UC Presidential Medal.

Watch this video to learn more about Chuck Feeney's impact on UCSF.

Anonymous Philanthropy

Feeney became a global success as co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group. In 1982, he made the unprecedented decision to give away his entire fortune — anonymously — during his lifetime.

Feeney always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Born in Elizabeth, N.J., to Irish American parents, Feeney shoveled snow and sold Christmas cards door-to-door as a child to make money. He was the first in his family to go to college, attending Cornell University after serving in the U.S. Air Force. At Cornell, Feeney was known as “the sandwich man” for selling bologna sandwiches to hungry classmates.

Eschewing luxury and fame, he preferred to fly economy, wore a $15.00 Casio watch, and used a plastic bag instead of a briefcase while quietly fostering change on a historic, global scale. Inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s essay Wealth, which argued that the best use of wealth is to help others, Feeney made doing good his life’s work.

Through his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney gave away more than $8 billion anonymously over 15 years. “The idea of becoming a billionaire could be kind of empty, unless there is a purpose,” Feeney said.

His unparalleled legacy includes facilitating the peace process in Northern Ireland, reducing the number of U.S. children without health insurance, securing lifesaving medication for millions afflicted with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and helping Vietnam develop a more equitable health care delivery system.

“I’m happy when what I’m doing is helping people and unhappy when what I’m doing isn’t helping people,” Feeney said.

The Feeney Way: Giving While Living

When he sold his shares in Duty Free Shoppers in 1997, the New York Times revealed the extent of  Feeney’s anonymous philanthropy, which in turn, created a sensation in the world of charitable giving.

Feeney’s impact extended beyond his personal philanthropy to inspiring others through his “Giving While Living” philosophy. “The Feeney Way” of giving encourages people to devote their good fortune in life to benefit others and, if wealthy, to use the money to tackle urgent problems today. “I had one idea that never changed in my mind: that you should use your wealth to help people,” Feeney said. “I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living — to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition.” His example continues to influence philanthropists around the world. His ideas and example motivated the creators of the Giving Pledge, which encourages donors to give during their lifetimes. To date, more than 200 signers from 29 countries have committed to giving away most of their wealth.

Feeney memorably said, “It’s a lot more fun to give while you’re alive than to give while you’re dead.”

“UCSF is honored to celebrate Chuck Feeney and his unparalleled humanitarian spirit. We hope his example inspires everyone to adopt ‘The Feeney Way’ of giving back to our community.” - UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood

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