Cornell University is receiving the largest gift the school has ever received from an individual. The University announced last Thursday that it was getting a gift of $80 million from alum David Atkinson.
Seventy-two-year-old Atkinson, who graduated from Cornell’s agriculture college in 1960, made his fortune on Wall Street and now owns and manages an investment firm.
The gift is to fund a research center that will produce more effective and less adverse practices in agriculture, medicine, energy and other constantly-changing arenas in economic growth.
To be held at Cornell’s 145-year-old Ithaca campus, this three-year pilot program has already received $56 million for sustainability projects from federal funding, private foundations and entrepreneurs.
Frank DiSalvo, a chemistry professor and the director of The David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, said that sustainability means “providing for everybody’s needs today in a way that will allow us to provide for the needs of the future – your needs and your children’s needs.”
The center will join forces with all kinds of academic disciplines including engineering, agriculture and the humanities. Collaborating with these different kinds of disciplines is essential to making advances in interrelated subjects, DiSalvo said.
“It’s hard to think of a discipline where they can’t make a contribution,” he said. “As daunting as the technical problems are in sustainability, I think even more challenging are the cultural, social, political, behavioral issues we have to tackle at the same time if we’re going to get from here to there.”
Via The Huffington Post