Record-setting Gift from Perelmans to Endow, Rename School of Medicine

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$3 Billion Down, $500 Million To Go 

—Headline from “Gazetteer,” May|June 2011 

Talk about old news. Just days after our last issue hit mailboxes, the University announced a record-setting gift of $225 million from Penn benefactors Raymond and Ruth Perelman to the School of Medicine, which will be renamed in their honor. It is the largest single donation ever received by the University, and also the biggest ever to name a US medical school.

Besides effectively reducing by half the distance to the finish-line for Penn’s $3.5 billion Making History campaign (with other contributions, the total actually reached $3.31 billion with the Perelmans’ gift), the unrestricted support will create a permanent endowment to enhance financial aid (projected to go up at least 20 percent for the class entering in 2012), faculty recruitment, and research at the school. 

“We are deeply grateful to Raymond and Ruth Perelman for helping us make history, and we are emboldened by the trust that they have shown in the future of medicine at Penn,” said Board of Trustees Chair David L. Cohen L’81 and Penn President Amy Gutmann in a statement to the University community announcing the gift. Gutmann called the Perelmans’ contribution “both transformational and inspiring.”

“It is transformational because this magnificent gift will enable us to increase financial aid for our exceptional students, recruit more of the most outstanding medical faculty and clinician educators, and invest more precious resources in innovative research programs that yield life-saving and life-enhancing breakthroughs in medicine and medical care,” she said. “It is inspiring because Raymond and Ruth’s gift propels us to redouble our efforts to make Penn a global model of a comprehensive academic medical center that integrates path-breaking research and education across specialties with the very highest quality of patient care.” 

The Perelmans’ generosity will enable Penn to “become an even greater global force for the improvement of human health in the 21st century and beyond,” said Arthur H. Rubenstein, dean of the medical school and executive vice president for the health system. He expressed gratitude for the trust the Perelmans have placed in the school “to use the gift to do good in the world,” adding that “[We] gladly accept the responsibility it brings.”

Raymond Perelman WEv’40, president and chairman of the board of RGP Holdings Inc., is a trustee of Penn Medicine, which includes the medical school and health system. Penn Medicine Board Chair James S. Riepe W’65 WG’67 praised the Perelmans’ “peerless generosity,” which he said would “further cement Penn’s standing as the preeminent model for integrating education, research, and patient care.”

The Perelman’s overall support for the Making History campaign exceeds $250 million. Previously, they had endowed a professorship in internal medicine and given $25 million toward construction of the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which opened in 2008 [“Gazetteer,” Jan|Feb 2006]. They are also prominent local philanthropists, supporting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Perelman Jewish Day School, and other Jewish cultural and welfare organizations. 

“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,” Perelman said. He expressed confidence “that Penn’s outstanding faculty and students will continue to make significant contributions to medicine in the years ahead,” adding, “We are proud and extremely grateful to have this eminent school of medicine carry our names.” —J.P.

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