Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
A native of Philadelphia, Peter McCausland graduated from the University of South Carolina,
earning a bachelor’s degree in history in 1974. He graduated, cum laude, from Boston
University School of Law in 1974. A gentleman farmer and philanthropist, Peter and his wife
Bonnie have two children and six grandchildren.
After graduation, Peter practiced law for two years with a law firm in Philadelphia and for five
years as general counsel of an industrial gas company, before he started his own firm,
McCausland, Keen, and Buckman, in 1982. In that year he also acquired a small industrial and
medical gas company in Connecticut which would eventually become the public company,
Airgas Inc., the fifth largest industrial, medical, and specialty gas company in the world.
As chairman and chief executive officer, Peter led the successful defense of Airgas and its
shareholders against the longest hostile takeover attempt in history, 2009-2011. That defense,
the subject of many law school and business school case studies and featured in a recently
published book, Merger Masters , is generally thought to be responsible for the decline in hostile
takeover attempts in recent years. In response to a second hostile approach, Airgas was sold in
2016 to the French company, Air Liquide. Airgas returned 19 percent per year, compounded, to
its shareholders, since its initial public offering in December of 1986.
In 2009, Peter and Bonnie purchased the 470 acre Erdenheim Farm in southeastern
Pennsylvania, to save it from development. The farm dates back to 1630 and was previously
owned by William Penn, founder of the colony that would become the state of Pennsylvania.
Since its inception, the farm has been in continuous agricultural use. Fruits and vegetables are
grown on the farm and animals are raised there, including sheep, cattle, goats, hens, donkeys,
and thoroughbred racehorses.
The McCauslands’ generous gifts to the university, both personally and through the McCausland
Foundation, established the McCausland Brain Imaging Center and the McCausland Faculty
Fellowship, creating numerous opportunities for faculty and students, while supporting
innovation and scholastic development. The McCausland Brain Imaging Center provides
state-of-the-art-technology to perform high-resolution brain imaging studies. The McCausland
Faculty Fellowship program enhances the student experience and the careers of faculty as the
premier faculty fellowship program in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. In addition,
Peter previously served on former University President John Palms’ advisory council and
currently serves on the university’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Board of Visitors. The
McCausland Foundation focuses on education especially for vulnerable youth, medical research
Peter has served on numerous non-profits boards over the years, including, the Fox Chase
Cancer Center, the Philadelphia orchestra, the Independence Seaport Museum, the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Morris Arboretum, Springside School, the
Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, and the Nantucket Land Council.