P&S Journal: Winter 1997, Vol.17, No.1
P & S News
Irving Gift Provides $10 Million for Cancer Research
H erbert Irving, the New York City philanthropist and food distribution executive, has given Columbia $10 million for cancer research. The myriad cancer research and treatment programs at Columbia-Presbyterian will now be known as the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. This gift makes Mr. Irving the largest donor in the history of Columbia-Presbyterian, having given a total of nearly $35 million to the medical center.
Herbert and Florence Irving
Mr. Irving, cofounder and former vice chairman of SYSCO Corp. of Houston, and his wife, Florence, were honored in November at a black tie dinner dance. The Irvings in 1991 gave $11 million to sponsor young researchers, known as Irving Scholars, and establish the Irving Center for Clinical Research. In 1995, the Irvings gave $12 million to construct Columbia-Presbyterian's new cancer treatment facilities that bear the Irving name.
"Not since Edward Harkness conceived the idea of creating Columbia-Presbyterian--the world's first academic medical center--has any donor to this center been such a potent force in strengthening and enhancing the relationship between research and clinical care," said Dr. Herbert Pardes, vice president and dean.
Mr. Irving, who began his relationship with Columbia-Presbyterian as a patient, now tops the list of medical center benefactors, joining the Milsteins, one of New York's leading real estate families; William Black, president and founder of Chock Full o' Nuts; and Occidental Petroleum magnate Armand Hammer.
The Irvings' most recent $10 million gift will create the Herbert Irving Professorship, to be held by the director of the cancer center, and four additional professorships. Columbia-Presbyterian's three existing cancer programs will now operate as the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center under the direction of Dr. Karen Antman.
"There is a renaissance in cancer care going on at Columbia-Presbyterian. Florence and I are enormously proud to be a part of it. We hope our contribution will lay the groundwork for advances in research and treatment for this deadly disease," Mr. Irving said.