Record-Setting $83.9 Million to SAS

A new gift from P. Roy Vagelos C’50 Hon’99 and Diana Vagelos will fund graduate education in chemistry and endow the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, among other priorities, the University announced in late January.

The $83.9 million gift is the largest single donation ever to Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences (exceeding the couple’s previous record-setting $50 million for the Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology, where the institute will be housed [“Gazetteer,” May|Jun 2019]). It brings to $239 million the total contributions to SAS by the retired chair and CEO of Merck (who chaired Penn’s board of trustees from 1994–99) and his wife, a former member of the Penn Museum’s board of advisors.

“Roy and Diana’s philanthropic support has been expanding Penn’s horizons in the sciences for more than four decades,” said Penn Interim President J. Larry Jameson in a statement announcing the gift. “As a physician-scientist himself, Roy pioneered major advances that have improved human health. Their commitment to this University can be seen across campus and we are deeply committed to their bold vision for what Penn can accomplish, from discoveries in the lab to inspiring students in the classroom. The legacy of their partnership will have an enduring impact on generations to come.”

The largest portion, $50 million, will add 20 new Vagelos Fellowships, designed to encourage and advance energy research, and provide further support to graduate education in the Department of Chemistry. The rest will go toward a permanent endowment for the Vagelos Institute, to fund an endowed chair in chemistry, and support student leadership awards in three existing Vagelos-named interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in life sciences and management, energy research, and molecular life sciences.

SAS Dean Steven J. Fluharty cited the “incomparable impact” of the Vageloses’ philanthropy on the school. “From supporting and recruiting exceptional chemists to educating future experts in top-notch research facilities and interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, we will continue to make great strides thanks to the partnership and incredible generosity of Roy and Diana,” he said.

“Diana and I have always been great believers in the power of basic science to find solutions to global problems,” Vagelos said. “Investing in students and faculty mentors is the best way we can think of to enable learning and advance discoveries. We hope that these funds will also help make this work more accessible and increase diversity among faculty and students pursuing these solutions.”

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