Cornell U. Gets $80M Gift For Sustainability Work

12/28/2010 04:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Cornell University is getting $80 million from one of its alums for a far-ranging research center to create more efficient and less harmful practices in energy, agriculture, medicine and other dynamic arenas in economic development.

It's the largest gift from an individual to the Ivy League school in upstate New York.

David Atkinson graduated from Cornell in 1960, went on to build a fortune on Wall Street and, at age 72, runs a private investment firm.

A three-year pilot program funded largely by Atkinson at Cornell's campus in Ithaca has already drawn $56 million for projects from government, private foundations and entrepreneurs.

The David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future announced Thursday sees collaboration across academic disciplines as vital to making breakthroughs in interrelated subjects.