A 94-year-old businessman, Raymond G. Perelman, and his wife Ruth, 90, set a national record when they gave $225 million to the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania last week. It was the largest single gift to a school of medicine in U.S. history.
The donation will make their names part of the nation’s first medical school. Founded in 1765, The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, currently ranked No. 2 in the U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools will be renamed Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Penn community was thrilled by the gift. Penn President Amy Gutmann called the gift “both transformational and inspiring.”
“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 lifesaving and life-enhancing breakthroughs in medicine and medical care,“ Gutmann said.
According to Penn’s press release, the unrestricted gift will enable the school to increase its financial aid by at least 20 percent for the medical school class entering in 2012.
The unparalleled generosity comes with responsibilities. Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the health system and dean of the School of Medicine said the Perelman couple “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.”
Ray Perelman, a son of Lithuanian immigrants, is the president and chairman of the board of RGP Holdings Inc., a private company whose total wealth is only known to himself and his family. Among Philadelphia’s most prominent philanthropists, the Perelmans have been longtime supporters of the arts, education, and medicine. Their giving is ubiquitous in the city—from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kimmel Center, to the Perelman Jewish Day School, and a multitude of Jewish cultural and community organizations.
In a press release by the university, Perelman said of their support for medicine at Penn, “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.”