Cantor Fitzgerald CEO gives $25 million to his old college which gave him free tuition when both his parents died in his teens

By Sophie Jane Evans Daily Mail

Paying tribute: On September 11, 2001, Lutnick (pictured at the 9/11 memorial) lost 658 employees at the financial firm in the terror attacks. The firm was based in the World Trade Center's North Tower.

Paying tribute: On September 11, 2001, Lutnick (pictured at the 9/11 memorial) lost 658 employees at the financial firm in the terror attacks. The firm was based in the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

He was given four years of free tuition after both of his parents died by his freshman year.

Now, 35 years later, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald has given Haverford College $25 million back.

Howard Lutnick, who lost 658 employees at the financial firm, including his younger brother, Gary, in the 9/11 terror attacks, made the generous contribution to the college in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Handing over a check to president Daniel Weiss, the 53-year-old said: ‘Haverford was there for me and taught me what it meant to be a human being.’

In response, Mr Weiss said the contribution, which is the largest single gift in the highly selective college’s 181-year history, will be partly used to pay for much-needed library renovations.

‘It’s transformational, an overused word for sure, but not here,’ said Mr Weiss, who presides over 1,200 students at the college, which prides itself on its Quaker heritage.

Lutnick, who has been CEO of the New York City company since 1991 and chairman since 1996, was a senior in high school in Jericho when his 42-year-old artist mother, Jane, died of cancer (lymphoma).

The following year, during his first week at Haverford, his father, Solomon, who taught at Queens College, passed away in hospital while being treated for colon and lung cancer.

A nurse treating the history professor had given him 100 times the dose of chemotherapy drugs that he was supposed to receive. The tragic mistake in 1979 left Lutnick and his brother orphaned.

A week later, then-president of Haverford, Robert Stevens, called Lutnick and offered him a full scholarship for his degree in economics. ‘Howard, your four years here are free’, he told him.

Lutnick, whose extended family had largely abandoned him, his brother and sister Edie, gratefully accepted the gift and went on to graduate in 1983, before joining Cantor Fitzgerald the same year.

Speaking of the full scholarship, the businessman told The Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘Since I had only been at the school for a week, they couldn’t possibly have known about me.

‘It was more about who they are as an institution than it was about me.’

On September 11, 2001, Lutnick would have died with the rest of his employees in the World Trade Center’s North Tower, but he was taking his son, Kyle, to his first day of kindergarten.

Despite the majority of the company’s 960 New York employees having perished, Lutnick made a risky decision – Cantor Fitzgerald would survive.

In subsequent years, he rebuilt the firm into a global business with 8,000 employees, while giving 25 per cent of its profits – around $180 million in total – to the families of 9/11 victims for five years.

Lutnick, whose net worth is now an estimated $45 million, and his employees continue to forgo a day’s pay on September 11 each year and the company donates a day’s revenue to charities.

Over the past 25 years, Lutnick, who is the chairman of Haverford’s board of managers and lives in New York City with his wife Allison and four children, has donated $65 million to the school.

The money has been used to build an indoor tennis and track center bearing his brother’s name and an integrated athletic center in the name of his former best friend, Douglas Gardner, also a Cantor Fitzgerald employee who perished in the World Trade Center attacks.

The funds – in particular, Saturday’s record gift of $25 million – have contributed greatly to the college’s capital campaign, which aims to raise $225 million by 2017.

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