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Meyerson Hall is home to Penn's School of Design.

Credit: Biruk Tibebe

Penn’s School of Design recently received a $1.25 million gift from 1975 PennDesign graduate and 1973 College graduate William Witte and his wife, Keiko Sakamoto, to establish the Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize and Award in City and Regional Planning.

Starting in the spring of 2019, the $50,000 fellowship will be awarded each year to an exemplary PennDesign student going into their final year in the Master of City and Regional Planning program. 

Witte told the Penn Almanac that he hopes to inspire students to approach their design plans with a social impact in mind. 

“It’s incumbent on those of us who work on cities to make sure that we not only practice responsible development, but that it’s holistic and we deal with all these different issues,” said Witte, who is a member of PennDesign’s Board of Overseers. “I want to encourage students to think big, think in a multi-disciplinary way and make a difference in a community.”

In addition to the fellowship, PennDesign also plans to give a professional award for innovation and impact in planning. The award will be presented to a firm, team, or individual professional that creates an outstanding planning project that makes improvements in at least four of the following areas: social equity, environmental quality, design, public health, mobility, housing affordability, and economic development.

The Witte-Sakamoto Family Prize is one of many recent donations to PennDesign. Last month, 1993 PennDesign graduate Barbara Wilks donated $1.25 million to PennDesign's Ian McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology —  an interdisciplinary think tank focused on researching environmentalism and social science through landscape and architecture. 

Last year, the school also received a $1.25 million donation from 1985 PennDesign graduate Lori Kanter Tritsch to create the $50,000 Kanter Tritsch Prize in Energy and Architectural Innovation, as well as the Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design.