A Tribute to William E. Macaulay

William E. Macaulay was a philanthropist and business leader whose exceptional legacy of generosity has enabled thousands of Macaulay students achieve their full potential.

Macaulay’s personal journey mirrored that of many of our students. A native New Yorker born in 1945, he was a first-generation college student, the first in his family to earn a college degree—a B.A. in economics from The City College of New York—before going on to receive an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Access to high quality education enabled him to launch a successful career in finance and make a fortune in energy company buyouts. In many ways his intellect, humility, and drive embodied the ethos and spirit of Macaulay Honors College students.

“Bill inspired students with the unlimited possibilities that a CUNY degree can set in motion. which he would not have been able to afford otherwise,” said Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay, his daughter, a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. “He wanted to provide future generations that same opportunity.”

As the founding chairman of the college’s Foundation Board, Macaulay transformed honors education by launching an endowment and securing a permanent home for the College. He then served on the board until his passing on November 26, 2019.

The college was designated the William E. Macaulay Honors College after a generous gift from Bill Macaulay and his wife Linda. The new building was officially opened on April 17, 2008, with a dedication attended by nearly 200 friends of the college, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, then-Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, and New York City Council member Gale Brewer.

“Bill’s remarkable leadership and generosity ensured the best possible education for our students,” recalled Macaulay Dean Emerita Mary C. Pearl. “His dedication to Macaulay Honors College and his wise guidance will be deeply missed.”