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U of M's Ag college receives $12.3 million gift

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Thanks to a successful South Dakota farmer and business woman, the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota will put $12.3 million in the bank to do with whatever it chooses.

The Star Tribune reports the college is one of three beneficiaries of a trust created in the estate of Millicent Atkins, a former student at the university.

Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. and the Congregational Church in Columbia will also receive a cut.

The university says the $12.3 million will be distributed in 2022 when the trust terminates. In the meantime, each beneficiary will receive one-third of the trust’s annual income.

Dean Allen Levine, whose stepping down as dean at the end August, says the money will help students pay for college.

"We are concerned about the financial burden of getting an education and the impact it has on students and their families," Levine said in a news release. "Millicent Atkins’ generosity will have a significant impact in helping students."

Atkins was born in 1919 and lived most her life in a small town east of Aberdeen, S.D. She grew up on a farm and attended the University of Minnesota for one year before obtaining a teaching degree at Northern State University.

She followed in the footsteps of her father as a land owner and farm manager and eventually owned more than 4,000 acres of prime farmland in Brown County, S.D.

She died last July at the age of 93.

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