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The Presidential Professorship in the College of Arts and Sciences will preference a scholar focused on data science. Credit: Carson Kahoe

Two Wharton graduates gifted a combined $1.5 million for a new Presidential Professorship in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a preference for a scholar focused on data science.

A Presidential Professorship is awarded to exceptional scholars with an emphasis on enhancing the diversity of Penn’s faculty. The new Arifa Hasan Ahmad and Nada Al Shoaibi Presidential Professorship is named after the mothers of Wharton 1990 graduates Hyder Ahmad and Faisal S. Al Shoaibi who endowed the professorship, Penn Arts and Sciences News reported.

“Diverse voices are needed in classic and cutting-edge fields of study to broaden our perspectives and lead us to new frontiers of knowledge,” Penn President Amy Gutmann told Penn Arts and Sciences News. “I am grateful that Hyder and Faisal have come together to make this impactful gift to help us continue to recruit excellent, diverse faculty members who advance knowledge and prepare our students to be critical thinkers and leaders in an ever-changing world.”

In honor of their 30th reunion, the two Wharton graduates wanted to give back to the institution that helped them by endowing a Presidential Professorship, Ahmad told Penn Arts and Sciences News.

“We could think of no better investment in Penn than a professorship that will impact research and learning for students now and long in the future,” Al Shoaibi told Penn Arts and Sciences.

Ahmad and Al Shoaibi have both remained involved with the Penn community and made other donations to the University since their graduation. Ahmad is currently a member of the Penn Arts & Sciences Board of Overseers, and Al Shoaibi is on the Penn Europe Middle East and Africa Leadership Committee. 

In 2011, Penn's Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence began the Presidential Term Professorship program to “support up to ten term professorships at the junior and senior level for exceptional scholars who will contribute to faculty excellence and diversity.” Penn has awarded this title to scholars in various fields including bioengineering, neurology, and Africana studies.

“Faculty impact everything we do and our ability to recognize and reward them is critical for the School,” School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Fluharty told Penn Arts and Sciences News. “Hyder and Faisal make this possible through their generous and thoughtful gift, and we are deeply appreciative.”

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