Herbert Irving Donates $12M for New Cancer Center

Herbert Irving, co-founder and vice chairman of Sysco Corp., has made a $12 million gift to Presbyterian Hospital, where he has been a trustee since 1988.

Irving's contribution will help fund the Herbert Irving Cancer Institute, established to centralize Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center's cancer treatment programs. It will be located in the Hospital's Dana Atchley Pavilion.

"I am proud to be associated with a medical center of such high caliber and know that this [donation] will support a world-class cancer center," said Irving as he presented the first installment, a $6 million stock certificate, to William T. Speck, president and chief executive officer of Presbyterian, Columbia's primary teaching hospital.

The donation moves the hospital significantly closer to its Capital Campaign goal of $150 million. As of mid-June, the Campaign had raised $104 million. Richard R. Kearns, senior vice president and chief development officer, said: "This very generous contribution gives much-needed momentum to the Capital Campaign. Gifts of this nature have the added benefit of motivating and raising the sights of other potential donors."

Irving's philanthropy includes gifts both large and small. In June he donated a new Star Trac treadmill machine to the outpatient area of the hospital's physical therapy department.

"May you use it in good health," he said to staff members at a mini-ribbon cutting inaugurating its use.

His contributions underscore the earlier selection of Irving as the Presbyterian Hospital 1995 "Trustee of the Year."

Under the auspices of the United Hospital Fund, Presbyterian Hospital trustees, administration and staff cited Irving for the "extraordinary generosity [that ] reflects the spirit of caring that is the hallmark of our institution."

With his wife, Florence, Irving had previously made a substantial gift that made possible the establishment of the Irving Center for Clinical Research, which opened in 1993.

The Center, located in the Presbyterian Hospital building and the Harkness Pavilion, funds the research of young scientists, know as Irving Scholars.

Irving earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II.

He then began his career with Ultima Corp. and, in 1948, joined Global Frozen Foods, which became Global Sysco. He later rose to the presidency of the company.

Columbia University Record -- October 27, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 8