Oct. 19, 2007

Two major gifts will advance energy and sustainability research at Cornell

Two of the major gifts to Cornell announced this week will help support sustainability and energy research on campus through the new Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future.

University Council member David R. Atkinson '60 has pledged $1 million per year over three to five years to seed program activities and research in energy, the environment and economic development through the center. Trustee David Croll '70 has pledged $5 million for the establishment of the David D. Croll Professorship of Sustainable Energy Systems in the College of Engineering and related programmatic funds.

"Both education and research will benefit from these two wonderful gifts from David Atkinson and the Croll family," said W. Kent Fuchs, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. "The Croll gift to Cornell's sustainable energy systems initiative will enable us to recruit a senior faculty leader in this area of strategic importance."

The sustainability center, in its infancy but growing quickly, will bring together researchers across campus to address issues related to energy, the environment, global warming and poverty. Frank DiSalvo, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science and interim director of the sustainability center, said the gifts are critical to its success.

"In order to carry out many of our plans and seed and grow activities that will really have an impact, we need resources to build interdisciplinary teams and attract new faculty," he said.

The center also aims to build new partnerships between Cornell researchers and other universities, industry, government, nongovernmental agencies and foundations. "Through the activities of the center, Cornell's broad range of interdisciplinary strengths can be brought together to address the world's challenges in sustainability," said DiSalvo.

The center will soon begin accepting research proposals, he added, and its ultimate impact will depend on continued support.

"There's an enormous alumni interest in this," said DiSalvo. "Alumni want us to take a leadership position in the area of sustainability, and they're eager to be involved. We hope that David Atkinson's and David Croll's leadership will inspire many others to step forward."