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Alumnus Terry Atkinson Increases Support for SDSU

Atkinson's third major gift will support four separate campaign initiatives, including two scholarship programs.
Terry Atkinson, ’69, a public administration major at San Diego State University, worked at leading Wall Street firms for 40 years and ran the top-ranked UBS municipal securities division for more than two decades. He has served on SDSU’s philanthropic foundation, the Campanile Foundation, since 2009.

Recently, Atkinson made his third large gift to The Campaign for SDSU—a $1 million pledge to support four different initiatives. Here he talks about the gift and his commitment to the campaign.

Q. As a board member of the Campanile Foundation, you are deeply involved in The Campaign for SDSU. What were the most satisfying accomplishments of the campaign in fiscal 2013 and what events are you looking forward to in fiscal 2014?

A. Fiscal 2013, the year ended June 30, was the most successful year of private giving in SDSU history. The university raised $91 million in total and nearly $58 million for scholarships, endowed professorships and program support. We also reached the 43,000 mark in donor numbers, a sign that alumni and donor engagement with SDSU has never been stronger.

Looking ahead, we expect to achieve our campaign goal of $500 million in 2014, but we will not stop fundraising for SDSU. The university needs ongoing support to continue its development as a leading public research university.

Q. You recently made a significant gift of $1 million to The Campaign for SDSU. Which initiatives are supported by your gift?

A. There are four. I am a big fan of basketball coach Steve Fisher, and half the gift will support SDSU Athletics’ planned basketball practice facility, a fully equipped, state-of-the-art hub for our championship teams.

Another $250,000 will help finance the College of Business Administration renovation, an effort to upgrade classrooms, presentation rooms, study space and technology throughout the building.

I have also committed $250,000 to scholarships for Guardian Scholars and for education abroad opportunities because I believe in the potential of our students. I am a big supporter of the study abroad program. Throughout 40 years of interviewing job applicants, I would always favor those who had the international experience because it does make a positive impact on their lives.

Q. Your second significant gift to SDSU—in early 2012—was a $1.5-million planned gift to support research. At the time, you said SDSU’s research will differentiate us from other public universities. Have you seen the impact of your gift play out over the last 20 months?

A. I certainly have. The new strategic plan, Building on Excellence, includes a commitment to advance research and creative endeavors that address national and international challenges. As part of that commitment, four research areas of excellence have been identified. These are areas in which SDSU already has significant faculty expertise.

Faculty from dozens of departments across campus are collaborating to strengthen these areas of research excellence The university is also hiring 16 new faculty members to bring complementary expertise to bear on each of the four areas—climate change and sustainability; clinical and cognitive neuroscience; the study of viruses in humans and the environment; and the application of GIS technology and data to benefit society.

I am eager to witness SDSU’s development as a leading public research university over the coming years.   
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