In Memoriam: Herbert Irving, Philanthropist

October 5, 2016

Herbert Irving, one of Columbia University Medical Center's most significant benefactors,died Monday, Oct. 3. He was 98 years old.

With his wife Florence, Herbert Irving played an essential role in advancing one of the leading academic medical centers in the nation and world.

Earlier this year, Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital commemorated the extraordinary commitment of the Irvings by renaming the medical center campus in Washington Heights the Columbia University Herbert and Florence Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

The Irvings’ donations and commitments over time to Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian will exceed $300 million. Many of the medical center's state-of-the-art facilities and clinical programs owe a debt to the Irvings, including

  • Herbert Irving Pavilion
  • Irving Cancer Research Center
  • Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research
  • Irving Radiation Oncology Center
  • Irving Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
  • Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Their gifts also made possible a long list of named professorships, faculty chairs, and other clinical and research facilities.

Most recently, Herbert and Florence Irving donated new gifts to support Columbia’s precision medicine initiative which, in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian, is addressing the genetic and genomic basis of cancer and other life-altering diseases.

Herbert Irving recently called his support of CUMC and NYP one of the proudest things he and Florence have done over the years: “This is a relationship that has endured for many years and been very important to us. We are honored to be associated in this way with these great institutions and the special people who make them what they are.”

Herbert Irving was born and raised in Brooklyn and was a co-founder and former vice chairman of Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food distributor.