Penn is no stranger to landing at the top of rankings and this past spring’s gift to the Perelman School of Medicine is one of the latest additions to these distinctions.
According to a report released on Dec. 30 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the $225 million pledge from Raymond and Ruth Perelman given to the Medical School in May marked the fourth-largest gift made by an individual in 2011.
Peer institutions that made the Chronicle’s list of top annual donations included Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford universities, as well as the University of Southern California.
The Perelmans’ donation marked the largest-ever single gift to Penn, as well as the largest naming gift ever given to a medical school in the country.
“The gift was transformational and I’m not surprised it’s ranked so highly across the country,” Penn Medicine spokesperson Susan Phillips said.
Penn President Amy Gutmann agreed. She said the gift will make it possible to increase financial aid for medical students by as much as 20 percent in the upcoming year. The funding will also be used toward the faculty research on diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, she added.
“The gift will likely open doors for those hesitant about joining our program due to concerns over the financial burden that accompanies medical education,” first-year Medical School student Adam Gigliotti wrote in an email.
While many have applauded the gift since it was announced, some have expressed displeasure over the fact that the school was renamed in recognition of the Perelmans in October.
“Scads of fabulous physicians and scientists created and nurtured Penn Med,” 1985 Medical School graduate Harry Schwartz wrote in an email. In the past, “no one person was ever accorded the triumph of having their name put on the whole thing.”
“Appropriate honors can be afforded donors without renaming the school,” he continued, adding that the school may face potential losses in donors if alumni become discouraged from contributing to the “rebranded entity.”
Gutmann said that while a “handful of people conveyed … reservations,” the name change received an “overwhelmingly positive response,” particularly from faculty.
“Those people that are concerned about [the name change] will be pleased with what is done with the money,” Phillips added.