CLIFF VINER, A LEADER IN COMMERCE, COMMUNITY SERVICE, AND PHILANTHROPY
In the first in-person Alumni Weekend since the advent of COVID, the University of Pennsylvania hosted 50-year anniversaries for the graduation classes of 1970, 1971, and 1972. Cliff Viner, Beta Pi ’67, Penn ’70, was there and celebrated with his fraternity brothers.
The highlight of the weekend were gala celebration parties that the classes of 1970 and 1972 held at the Union League in Center City, Philadelphia. Paul Zaentz, Rich Sussman, and Charles Schliebs, all Beta Pi ’69, Penn ’72, were joyously celebrating at the Class of ’72 party, and were pleased when Cliff Viner left his party to join with his fraternity brothers at their party. These were lifetime friendships that Cliff never forgot.
Cliff Viner has had a most interesting and fulfilling life. After graduating from Penn, Cliff went on to earn his MBA at the Wharton School. He spent some time as an analyst for an insurance company and then as a government securities trader at a private company. In 1982, he cofounded III Offshore Partners, now known as III Capital Management, a hedge fund.
In 2001, the success of his company enabled Cliff to become part of a group of investors that bought a majority interest in the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. By 2009, brother Viner became the majority owner of the Panthers, assuming the positions of Chairman and General Partner until 2013 when he sold his interest in the Panthers hockey team. During his time with the team, he also served as Chairman of the Florida Panthers Foundation which focuses on pediatric cancer causes. In 2012, the Florida Panthers Foundation was awarded the Broward Foundation of the Year Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Reflecting on his involvement with the Florida Panthers, he insists, “Owning the Florida Panthers was owning a public asset, a public trust. You owe the community your efforts to contribute back to them”.
For over twenty years, Cliff was a member of the Board of Trustees of B’nai Torah Congregation of Palm Beach, Florida. In addition, he served a stint as President of the Congregation and was a founding member of the B’nai Torah Foundation that also had a mission to fight childhood cancer.
In 2013, Cliff married his wife, Eda. That same year, Cliff and Eda founded the Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation that provides four-year scholarships to financially challenged students, in the Boca Raton and Delray area, to attend state colleges and universities in Florida. Brother Viner has said, ”The needs and challenges here are enormous, as evidenced by the skyrocketing totals of student debt burdening students as they attend college, and the huge numbers of qualified students that do not go to college because they cannot afford it”.
Besides providing financial assistance, the Viners’ program includes the support of social services agencies that sees to the students’ and their families’ needs, psychological counseling, help with health care services, legal services, and required participation by the students in a mentoring program run by trained mentors. As a result, the Viner scholarship graduation rate is astounding as it is nearly 100%.
While Eda sits on the board, Eda and Cliff chaired the 2015 and 2016 Wee Dream Ball for the Florence Fuller Child Development Center. In that capacity, they raised over $1,000,000 for this charitable group.
Besides sitting on the board of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, an organization dedicated to fighting racial discrimination, Cliff is the founder and first President of the Urban League Foundation.
In all these charitable endeavors, Cliff and Eda’s investment is not only financial. They invest extensive time and extraordinary expertise in all their philanthropic activities.
At Penn, brother Viner was also well-invested in Pi Kappa Alpha activities and events, and enjoys and appreciates the lifelong friendships he has made.