The Teagle Foundation was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle (1878 – 1962), longtime president and later chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now Exxon Mobil Corporation. Mr. Teagle gave the Foundation a broad mandate, "to advance the well-being and general good of mankind throughout the world," mentioning many areas of concern and possible recipients of its support. Over the intervening decades the Foundation has pursued many of these avenues, always, however, including among its grants the aid Mr. Teagle envisioned for "institutions of higher learning and research," and assistance to family members of employees of his corporation who were "desirous of obtaining some form of educational advantage."
Walter Teagle graduated from Cornell University in 1899 and maintained close ties with that university throughout his lifetime. He served as a trustee from 1924 to 1954 and made generous contributions to it. Reflecting Mr. Teagle's wish, the Foundation includes among its directors a person nominated by the president of Cornell and another nominated by the chairman of ExxonMobil. The Teagle Foundation's assets derive from gifts and bequests from Walter C. Teagle, his wife, Rowena Lee Teagle, and their son Walter C. Teagle, Jr.