August 22 marks the 100th birthday of noted Penn citizen and Center City resident Raymond G. Perelman, one of Philadelphia’s most prominent businessmen and active philanthropists.
In 2011, Ray and his late wife, Ruth, made a $225 million naming gift for the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, which stands as the University’s largest gift ever (see “Record-setting Gift from Perelmans to Endow, Rename School of Medicine,” Jul|Aug 2011). “Ruth and I believe the future of medicine depends on the ability to produce world-class clinicians and researchers, the hallmarks of Penn and a Penn education,” said Ray at the time of their transformative gift.
“Ray Perelman has long recognized the capacity of Penn Medicine to improve health and transform the lives of patients,” says J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “His sweeping philanthropy has nourished the talents of our brilliant students and accelerated the path-breaking work of our physicians and scientists—all in the interest of bringing comfort and healing to all those in need.”
Additional philanthropy includes $25 million to help build the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Penn’s state-of-the-art outpatient facility. The couple also endowed a professorship—the first to support a full-time clinician in internal medicine. The Perelman Scholarship—given annually to 12 incoming students—was created to attract highly driven candidates with wide-ranging interests and the desire to make a significant impact. Each year, Ray continues to meet with first-year medical students.
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Raymond Perelman was born in Philadelphia in 1917. After attending Wharton and serving in the US Air Force during World War II, he began his career at his family’s American Paper Products Company and later became a billionaire through savvy investments in steel manufacturing and other areas. A number of Ray’s children and grandchildren have attended Penn, including his son, Ron, an active University philanthropist.
In addition to his substantial philanthropy at Penn, Ray Perelman has championed organizations throughout Philadelphia, including the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Day School, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
For his extraordinary works at Penn, Ray, a Penn Medicine trustee from 2002–2012, has received many accolades, including Penn’s Medal for Distinguished Achievement. The University also granted him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2014.
Today, we remember Ray’s contributions, salute his longevity, and thank him for his devotion to Penn Medicine. Happy Birthday, Ray!