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Cornell Receives $80 Million Boost for Sustainability Research

| Tuesday November 9th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Cornell University announced October 28th that David R. Atkinson and wife Patricia Atkinson have donated $80 million to expand upon the already accomplished Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF), now renamed the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF).   Through joint efforts between college departments, businesses, NGOs, foundations and other external partners, this generous gift is aimed at positioning Cornell as a world-class leader in sustainability research, outreach and academics.

Cornell University announced October 28th that David R. Atkinson and wife Patricia Atkinson have donated $80 million to expand upon the already accomplished Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF), now renamed the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF).   Through joint efforts between college departments, businesses, NGOs, foundations and other external partners, this generous gift is aimed at positioning Cornell as a world-class leader in sustainability research, outreach and academics. 

Quoted in a recent Cornell Chronicle article, Cornell President David Skorton remarked, “David Atkinson’s historic gift provides a permanent Cornell base for stimulating and coordinating the university’s unfolding capabilities in sustainability.  It represents a very significant investment in our most valued resource: people — faculty, staff and students — with the mission of achieving world impact and leadership in sustainability. Cornell aspires to be a leader in efforts to create a bright future for our world: for our children, grandchildren and generations to follow.”

David R. & Patricia Atkinson (Courtesy of Jason Koski/University Photography)

David R. Atkinson, an alumni of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, acted as a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Advisory Council from 2003 to 2009 and as co-chair of the Environmental Sustainability and Development Task Force, the group that helped to establish CCSF.  The center was made possible with initial financial support from the Atkinsons, moneys which have buoyed over 40 research teams since CCSF first opened its doors in 2007.

ACSF promotes collaborative research between 55 departments, 220 faculty members from ten different colleges on campus.  They focus on problem-solving, interdisciplinary research tackling the complicated relationship between energy, the environment, and economic development.  To give an idea of their scope of work, current projects range from the study of greenhouse gas capture and sequestration, sustainable energy systems modeling and computation, climate change impact on developing countries, and technology development for the production of bio-based fuel and feedstock.

Frank DiSalvo, the center’s director, commented on this interlinked approach, “The center provides the means and programs to build new, multidisciplinary collaborations and the external partnerships needed to tackle important and complex problems.  Chemists are meeting economists, biologists are meeting historians, and so on, and the faculty and staff are transforming Cornell into a living and learning laboratory for sustainability.”

The Atkinsons first began their support of sustainability initiatives at Cornell in 1991, when funding the creation of the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, an endowed professorship.  Twenty years later, they decide to make the biggest donation Cornell has ever received from an individual.  Atkinson’s hope is that this contribution will provide Cornell with the necessary tools and expertise to effectively address our world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Read more about ACSF’s current research and past achievements.

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