Einhorn Gift of $50 Million to Fund Cornell Program

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Cornell University has unveiled a $150 million community engagement initiative that will be funded in part by a $50 million gift from a trust established by hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

The initiative is aimed at getting Cornell students to “become active citizens and to tackle critical challenges by participating in hands-on, practical learning experiences in communities at home and around the world,” the university said today in a statement.

“The goal here is not just to cater to the students where this is sort of their natural interest or proclivity,” Einhorn said in a phone interview. “Our goal is 100 percent participation.”

Cornell, an Ivy League school based in Ithaca, New York, seeks to reach that participation target by 2025, according to the statement. The program, called ‘Engaged Cornell,’ will be headed by Judith Appleton, vice provost for land-grant affairs.

“This program is very ambitious,” Appleton said in an interview. “What we’re hoping to accomplish there is to give students an opportunity to develop skills and to learn how to engage in communities while they’re students, so that when they graduate, they’ll be able to approach problems and confront them in a constructive and productive way.”

The Einhorn Family Charitable Trust made a $50 million donation and the university said it is seeking to raise an additional $100 million. The $50 million commitment is over 10 years, Appleton said.

The trust is run by Einhorn, founder and president of the New York-based hedge fund Greenlight Capital, and his wife Cheryl. Both are Cornell graduates.

Cornell, founded in 1865, is nearing the end of a record-breaking fundraising campaign, collecting $4.79 billion through June 30 for the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. The university is separately building a $2 billion technology campus in New York City that will be funded with gifts.

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