Annenberg Foundation Awards $32.5 Million to Penn for New Policy Center Building and Humanities Chair

facebook twitter google print email
Media Contact:Phyllis Holtzman | holtzman@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-898-8743October 26, 2004

PHILADELPHIA--The University of Pennsylvania has received a $30 million gift, with $22 million from the Annenberg Foundation of Radnor, Pa., and $8 million from the Annenberg Trust at Sunnylands, to construct a building that will adjoin the Annenberg School for Communication and house the School's Annenberg Public Policy Center, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced today at the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Center at Penn.  In addition, the Annenberg Foundation has endowed a $2 million chair in the humanities and provided $500,000 for graduate student fellowships.

To be completed in 2008, the new building, which will be constructed on the 36th Street walk with a plaza to connect it to the Annenberg School, will bring the Policy Center programs in media and the developing child, political and health communication and information and society together in a single location.

The building will also feature a large first floor forum space, where the University community can gather for lectures, conferences, public debates and deliberations.

"This extraordinary gift from the Annenberg Foundation demonstrates its deep understanding of the important role that substantive dialogue and debate play in maintaining a strong and engaged democracy," Gutmann said.  "The new state-of-the-art building will provide opportunities for scholars who are working on the important issues of our day to collaborate with colleagues at other schools and centers at Penn and elsewhere."  

"The Annenberg Public Policy Center was founded by Ambassador Walter Annenberg in 1994 to increase the impact of communication scholarship on public policy and the life of the nation," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Center director and Annenberg School professor.  "With more than  $80 million in grant funding in its first 10 years, the Center has grown beyond the space available in the Annenberg School.  This generous gift from Ambassador Leonore Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation will make it possible for the scholars in the Center to retain their close ties to the school and the campus.  We are all in the debt of the Annenbergs for their vision and their generosity."

At the luncheon celebration of the Policy Center anniversary, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, delivered a keynote address on the impact of scholarship on policy.  In his honor, the Annenberg Foundation has endowed a $2 million Vartan Gregorian Chair in the Humanities at Penn and provided an additional $500,000 for graduate student fellowships in the humanities.  An advisor to the Annenberg Foundation and close friend of the Annenbergs, Gregorian is a former provost at Penn.

"Vartan Gregorian is a scholar, a humanitarian and a truly remarkable individual, whose wisdom, leadership and counsel have benefited several universities and important philanthropic endeavors," said Leonore Annenberg, president of the Annenberg Foundation.

"This gift is one more example of the tremendous commitment Lee Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation have made to higher education and we are extremely thankful for their generosity," Gutmann said.  "We are honored to have a chair in the humanities named for Vartan Gregorian, one of the outstanding leaders in higher education of our time."

Gregorian was provost from 1978 to 1981 at Penn, where he also served as founding dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.  He has been widely recognized for his work in revitalizing the New York Public Library, where he served as president from 1981 to 1989.  Gregorian also served for nine years as president of Brown University.

"Vartan Gregorian's leadership in the area of civic education has guided the Policy Center work in the area for the past decade and will continue to do so in the future," Jamieson said.

Established in 1994, the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania conducts and disseminates research, hosts lectures and conferences and convenes roundtable discussions that highlight important questions about the intersection of media, communication and public policy.

The Annenberg Foundation is the successor corporation to the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pa., established in 1958 by the late Walter H. Annenberg.  It exists to advance the public well being through improved communication.  As the principal means of achieving its goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.