Carlow alum embodies finding a passion following a dream and working to effect positive change in the world
Over the course of their
respective careers in the corporate and nonprofit worlds, Patrick
and Michele Rehfeld Atkins '82 readily acknowledge they've
experienced the best and worst of ethical decisions in the
And they've not only done
something to address the worst of them, they've given abundantly to
many organizations in the region that make a positive and lasting
impact on the lives of others-including Carlow University.
"It is this commitment to
the next generation, and to passing on a legacy of ethics and
corporate responsibility to a greater good, that separate Pat and
Michele from people who are intent on simply doing 'business as
usual'," said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, president of Carlow
Feeling a need to increase
public discourse about the role of ethics in business and society,
the Atkins founded The Atkins Endowed Center for Ethics at CarlowUniversity in 2017 through a generous $1.5 million grant. The
center serves as a resource in the study and applications of ethics
in the region in the hopes that Carlow may become a national leader
in conversations surrounding the ethical issues of our day.
To date, the Atkins have
contributed more than $1.7 million toward Carlow University's
mission and the enhancement of its programs.
The couple was honored at
Carlow University's annual Legacy Reception Oct. 11 at Mansions on
Fifth and awarded the inaugural David and Barbara Capozzi Kirr '60Leadership in Philanthropy Award, named in honor of the Kirrs'
transformational, philanthropic leadership at the university.
The award honors
benefactors of Carlow University who bestow their time, goodwill,
assets and energy to achieve ambitious financial goals in
advancement of Carlow's mission.
The reception was also an
opportunity for Carlow's endowments' benefactors to meet
face-to-face with dozens of Carlow students who are recipients of
academic scholarships made possible through these
endowments-scholarships that offer endless possibilities to
students in building a better tomorrow for themselves, their
families and the community.
Patrick, who holds a PhD
in environmental engineering, retired from Alcoa in 2007. Michele
attended Carlow as an adult student, graduating in 1982 with a
bachelor's degree in sociology. She went on to serve in several
positions in nonprofit management, including the Make-A-Wish
Foundation, and served on the Carlow Board of Trustees for 10
years. She subsequently was elected as a Trustee Emerita for
exceptional commitment to her alma mater.
"Carlow taught me many
things," Michele said. "The most valuable lesson was gleaned by
watching the ethical values of the Mercy nuns who founded this
Lauding them as "feisty,
smart, dedicated and very caring women," Michele said they thought
about the things that were most needed by the people in the
community and identified ways to do something about it.
Patrick said that when he
and Michele think about organizations to which they will
contribute, they look for creativity, smart people, dedication,
enthusiasm and leadership.
"We're very pleased to be
able to support an organization like Carlow," Patrick said. "Carlow
is making a difference. It's making more and more of a difference
Michele upheld the
students in attendance as "the future of philanthropy"-and she
accepted the award with the hope that each of them would find their
passion and a vision for a better world, and share their resources
to effect positive change in the world.
Carlow University extends
a special thank-you to Fort Pitt Capital for its sponsorship of the
By Elizabeth Fazzini