The donation was made by Mica Ertegun, the widow of the founder of the label, Ahmet Ertegun, and it will be used to create scholarships for students studying humanities subjects.
Fifteen scholarships will be handed out every year, although it will eventually help at least 35 graduates a year, in what is the largest donation the university’s humanities department has ever received.
And students do not have to be applying to study music, as the scholarships will also be open to graduates in literature, history, archaeology, art history and Middle Eastern studies.
A portion of the donation will also be used to refurbish a five-storey Georgian university building, to be named the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun House for the Study of the Humanities, which will be fitted with state-of-the-art technologies for the students.
“For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology,” Mica explained.
“My dream is that, one day, Ertegun Scholars will be leaders in every field – as historians and philosophers, as archaeologists and literary scholars, as writers and composers, as statesmen and theologians.”
Atlantic Records is perhaps best-known for signing legendary soul acts Aretha Franklin, Otis Reading and Ray Charles and later moving into rock and roll with Led Zeppeliln and the Rolling Stones.
However, it is its partnership with Led Zeppelin that helped the donation come about.
The band was performing a memorial concert for Ahmet at the O2 Arena in 2007 and some of the proceeds went to the university.
Mica explained to the Guardian: “Ahmet was highly educated, he went to a college where you really had to read everything and his passion was music.”