The Wharton School received a gift of $50 million from 1984 Wharton graduate Marc J. Rowan and Carolyn Rowan — the largest single contribution in the school's history.
The donation will fund "groundbreaking research and exceptional teaching" by establishing the Rowan Distinguished Professors and Rowan Fellows programs, Wharton announced Tuesday. The donors also designated $12 million to fund the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the research-based initiative started to help launch Wharton to the forefront of public policy innovation.
The donation surpasses the Huntsman family’s gift of $40 million in 1998, which up until now has been the largest Wharton had ever received.
Rowan, who also received his Wharton MBA in 1985, is a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, LLC, an established alternative investment managing firm with total assets of $270 billion under management as of August 2018. He now serves as chair of Wharton’s Board of Overseers, a Penn Trustee, and co-chair of Wharton’s More Than Ever fundraising campaign.
The donation comes as part of the More Than Ever campaign, a subset of the University’s Power of Penn campaign — the most ambitious campaign in Penn's history, with the goal of raising $4.1 billion in the next four years.
Prior to the donation, Wharton’s campaign goal stood at $850 million, but the Rowan family contribution has pushed the goal to $1 billion, according to a Wharton press release.
Part of the contribution will support the Penn Wharton Budget Model, which emerged as a valuable player for many economists and journalists when Congress rolled out the new tax bill last year. The model’s tax policy study, published in December 2017, concluded that while the tax cut would increase GDP, the national debt would also rise. Its analysis was covered by many media organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico.
Another portion of the funding will be used to attract and retain world-renowned faculty through the establishment of the Rowan Distinguished Professors and Rowan Fellows programs.
Under the new Rowan Distinguished Professors program, Wharton will recruit three new faculty members, each of whom will be recognized as global leaders in their respective fields. The 10 departments in Wharton may make recommendations for those they deem appropriate for these positions. Additionally, faculty may nominate their peers to be Rowan Fellows, which are five-year terms intended to recognize and support distinguished faculty currently in Wharton.
“Their investment in Penn’s future will strengthen our intellectual resources, provide our students with life-changing mentors, and mobilize our knowledge for the advancement of society,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann in a press release.
In the press release, Rowan cited his personal experiences with Wharton faculty as responsible for his success and expressed his desire to help Wharton continue to provide students with those opportunities.
“As top Wharton researchers advance and shape their fields, they transform the lives of their students, preparing them to make a difference in the business world and beyond,” he said.
Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett said it is Rowan's dedication to enhancing life at Wharton, at the University, and in the world that distinguishes his gift from previous donations.
“Yes, he is a donor and supporter of the school, but he’s a partner in helping us achieve our goal,” said Garrett in an exclusive interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian. “His investment goes beyond the school.”
While Rowan’s gift marks the largest single donation ever given to Wharton, the gift of $225 million from 1940 Wharton graduate Raymond Perelman to Penn Medicine in 2011 is still the biggest ever given to the University.
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