Howard Lutnick will restore your faith in humanity.
A quarter of a century ago he lost both his parents during his freshman year at Haverford College. No one could make it up for his loss, but his college did the best they could - they waved off his tuition fee for the entire four years.
That was a tough time for Lutnick and the gesture meant the world for him.
The 53-year-old Lutnick is now a successful businessman as well as the chairman of the college board, and even after all these years he has not forgotten what his alma mater did for him. Lutnick spent his lift paying it back on and off in one way or another.
His recent gift to Haverford, however, was so massive, it created a ripple all around. He shelled out no less than $25 million to his school - the largest single gift in Haverford's 181-year history.
This massive sum will be used for the college’s “Lives That Speak” campaign – a 10-year strategic plan for institutional development that aims at improving the existing curriculum, making it affordable for all, enhancing facilities for growth, creativity, scholarship and renovations to the main library.
His donations have been a way of giving back to the institute that was there for the toughest time in his life. However, it has also helped him deal with a lot of sorrows in later life. Lutnick’s financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. lost 658 employees in the World Trade Center attacks and he was hit with tragedy once again. He found solace in giving in the memories of the loved ones he lost.
The indoor tennis and track center bears the name of his brother Gary, also a Cantor Fitzgerald employee, killed on 9/11. The integrated athletic center is named for his best friend, Douglas B. Gardner, and the arena inside for Calvin Gooding, both Haverford classmates and Cantor Fitzgerald employees who also died in the attack. Lutnick also funded the college's Cantor Fitzgerald Art Gallery.
All these donations may seem huge but to Lutnick, they are nothing. "Haverford was there for me," says Lutnick, "and taught me what it meant to be a human being."
His extended family, on the other hand, left him and his two siblings on their own.
"They thought we would be sticky," he said, "that we would come over and never leave."
The University of Rhode Island told his sister, then a student there, that if she couldn't afford to pay, she should become a waitress, he said. That made the offer from Haverford more extraordinary.
"Since I had only been at the school for a week, they couldn't possibly have known about me," he said. "It was more about who they are as an institution than it was about me."
He sure knows how to give back. With his $25 million gift, Lutnick's total donations to Haverford over the years reached $65 million.