In 1998, Donald Othmer, a world-renowned chemist, philanthropist and Polytechnic University professor, together with his wife, Mildred, made the largest single cash gift to a private American university, and set a new benchmark for educational philanthropy. Othmer, holder of more than 150 patents and author of more than 350 scholarly articles, was both a pragmatist and a visionary. While inventing fundamental tools and technologies such as the Othmer Still and heating systems for arctic pipelines, Othmer also found time to co-edit, with Polytechnic's Dean of Chemistry, Raymond Kirk, the pivotal 27-volume Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, which is still in use today.