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Raymond and Ruth Perelman's $225 Million Gift to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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May 24, 2011, Volume 57, No. 34

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The University of Pennsylvania has received a $225 million gift­—the largest single gift in its history—from philanthropist Raymond G. Perelman and his wife, Ruth, to benefit Penn’s world-renowned School of Medicine. The gift represents the largest single gift to name a school of medicine in the United States. It will create a permanent endowment for the school, which will be renamed the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The gift brings the Perelmans’ total contributions to Penn’s Making History capital campaign to more than $250 million.

“Raymond and Ruth Perelman’s historic investment in the future of Penn’s esteemed School of Medicine is both transformational and inspiring,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said.

 “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.

“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 unrestricted gift will establish a permanent endowment that will be used to provide significantly more financial aid to medical school students, recruit the most talented physicians and scientists and support innovative research. The School of Medicine will increase its financial aid budget by at least 20 percent for the medical school class entering in 2012.

“Ray and Ruth Perelman’s incredible gift to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine will enable us to become an even greater global force for the improvement of human health in the 21st century and beyond,” Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the health system and dean of the School of Medicine, said.  “They have placed their trust in us to use the gift to do good in the world. We are grateful for that trust and gladly accept the responsibility it brings.”

“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,” Raymond Perelman said.

“We are confident that Penn’s outstanding faculty and students will continue to make significant contributions to medicine in the years ahead. We are proud and extremely grateful to have this eminent School of Medicine carry our names.”

“Raymond and Ruth Perelman’s deep and abiding engagement with Penn Medicine has dramatically improved our ability to plan for a future that will greatly enhance all aspects of a Perelman School of Medicine education and make it second to none,” Penn Medicine Board Chair James S. Riepe said. “Their peerless generosity will further cement Penn’s standing as the preeminent model for integrating education, research and patient care.”

The Perelmans’ gift brings Penn’s Making History campaign total to $3.31 billion—94.6 percent of the campaign’s $3.5 billion goal—with more than 19 months to go.

“The future of medical education is here,” David L. Cohen, chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees, said. “It is not surprising that Ray and Ruth Perelman are the ones to set a new standard for the best in teaching, research and clinical practice.”

In 2005, the Perelmans pledged $25 million to create the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which opened in 2008. The state-of-the-art facility, part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, houses 12 clinical specialties whose staff work together in multi-disciplinary teams aided by the latest medical technology.

Raymond Perelman is president and chairman of the board of RGP Holdings Inc., a privately held holding company comprised of a vast array of manufacturing, mining and financial interests. He serves as a Penn Medicine trustee.

The Perelmans are two of Philadelphia’s most prominent philanthropists. Prior to their landmark gift supporting the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine at Penn (Almanac December 6, 2005), the Perelmans endowed a professorship in internal medicine at the University, the first of its kind devoted to an active, full-time clinician (Almanac September 27, 2005). In addition to their on-going interest in health care, the Perelmans have made path-breaking gifts to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kimmel Center, the Perelman Jewish Day School and many other Jewish cultural and welfare organizations. 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school, is currently ranked No. 2 in U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools and is among the top 10 schools for primary care. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $507.6 million awarded in the 2010 fiscal year. 

The School of Medicine comprises 28 basic and clinical departments and more than 1,800 faculty members and 2,200 students and trainees. Penn’s physicians and biomedical scientists engage in integrated research programs that employ an interdisciplinary approach to understand the fundamental mechanisms of disease and investigate new strategies for treatment.

Almanac - May 24, 2011, Volume 57, No. 34