News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 14: David R. and Patricia D. Atkinson

David R. and Patricia D. Atkinson

Amount donated in 2010: $80-million

Beneficiary: Cornell University

Donors’ background: Mr. Atkinson retired in 1992 as a partner with Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd, a Philadelphia money-management firm. He now runs Atkinson & Company, the couple’s private-investment business.

Mr. Atkinson, 72, and his wife, Patricia pledged $80-million to Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., to support the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, a research center focused on the challenges facing energy, the environment, and economic development around the world.

The couple established the center as a pilot program in 2007 with a $3-million donation. Their recent pledge endows the center’s research programs and will enable the center to hire new faculty members, as well as support the center’s general operations and other programs. No details were available about Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson’s timeline for paying the pledge.

Mr. Atkinson earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 from Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Mr. Atkinson grew up near New Egypt, N.J., on a poultry farm that his father, who had only a ninth-grade education, ran successfully. The donor said he believes a “productive, efficient agricultural sector is a key ingredient for economic development.”

—Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.