In a history-making gesture of generosity, Robby Atkins ’65 has endowed the director of athletics position at Wofford College.

The $3 million investment creates the first endowed fund to support a coaching or staff position at the college. This places Wofford among the 12% of Division I Football Bowl Subdivision institutions to have an endowed director of athletics position.

Scott Kull, Wofford’s new director of athletics, is first to hold the Robert D. Atkins ’65 Director of Athletics position.

“What a gift! To step onto campus for my first official day of work as director of athletics and be able to thank Robby Atkins for this remarkable contribution is the stuff of legend,” says Kull. “I’ll work every day to live up to the honor and responsibility of this new endowed position.”

Atkins gives credit to the college — and a scholarship that made his enrollment at Wofford possible — for his successful career in business. He continues to give out of gratitude.

“I’d like to think that any graduate of Wofford would find some way to give something back, regardless of the amount,” says Atkins, retired owner and president of Atkins Machinery. “Wofford gives out lots of financial aid, so nearly everyone gets some kind of assistance to attend. I realize that many may not have the funds right out of college, but when their situation changes, I can only hope they will find a way to give back to Wofford.”

According to Wofford President Nayef Samhat, Atkins is keenly attuned to the college’s needs.

“He genuinely wants to help in ways that most benefit Wofford College,” says Samhat. “His contributions have touched every corner of our institution — scholarships for student-athletes and student-artists, day-to-day operations, capital projects and programming for students interested in careers in business.”

The Robert D. Atkins ’65 Director of Athletics position brings the college’s total of endowed positions to 19. Five more have been started but are not fully endowed. All except the athletics director position are for faculty chairs or professorships.

Endowment support remains a need at Wofford College. According to Calhoun Kennedy ’89, vice president for Philanthropy + Engagement, endowments provide a stable and constant source of funding. The interest or a portion of the return on an endowed fund provides sustainable financial support for recurring expenses, in this case, the director of athletics salary. That means the annual dollars that once supported that role can be used to give students more opportunities.

The Robert D. Atkins ’65 Director of Athletics position is the latest in a long line of Atkins’ philanthropic and leadership support of Wofford College.

In 1989, Atkins began annually funding a full tuition, room and board scholarship for a student-athlete on the college’s football team. He added another annually funded scholarship for a member of the men’s basketball team in 2017 as a gesture of gratitude for the transformational gifts Jerry Richardson ’59 made in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts and the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. Atkins has planned in his estate to ultimately endow both scholarships. Also in 2017, he and his wife, Susan, an artist, endowed a scholarship for a student-artist. Atkins is a founder of the James-Atkins Student-Managed Investment Fund at Wofford and has served on the President’s Advisory Council, the Terrier Club Board of Directors and the college’s Investment Advisory Committee.