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A great portion of the donation will fund the new McGraw Center for Educational Leadership. Credit: Yosef Robele

Penn’s Graduate School of Education has received a $16.25 million donation, the largest in the school’s history.

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation will direct $10 million toward the formation of a new center at GSE focused on cultivating leadership, according to a press release posted Friday. The other $6.25 million will fund GSE’s existing Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education.

The new McGraw Center for Educational Leadership will launch in the fall of 2023 and will be located in GSE's ongoing building expansion, which began this spring. The Center will focus on providing solutions to current problems in education through entrepreneurialism. Ph.D. students, instructors, and education professionals will be invited to participate in the Center’s work.

“We all know that leadership matters, and few things matter more to our society than cultivating leaders who can navigate change and are devoted to educating people at every stage of their lives,” Penn President Liz Magill wrote in the announcement. “With the launch of the McGraw Center, those dedicated to teaching and learning will be able to devise more effective responses to the rapidly changing needs of learners today. We are deeply grateful to the McGraw family for their exceptional generosity.”

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, founded in 2020, awards $50,000 to innovators in education in three categories: Pre-K-12 Education, Higher Education, and Learning Science Research. Previous winners include Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, and Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code.

“Our family is enormously excited about the new McGraw Center for Educational Leadership,” Terry McGraw, 1976 Wharton graduate and former chairman, president and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies, told GSE. “Our shared goal with Penn GSE is to develop future generations of leaders spanning all types of education — from pre-school through corporate learning — who are at the forefront of educational excellence in the 21st century.”

The historic donation comes as the end of GSE Dean Pam Grossman's tenure approaches. Grossman has spent eight years in the position and "expects to step down" at the conclusion of her term in June 2023, joining Penn Carey Law Dean Ted Ruger, whose term is also coming to an end. Under Grossman’s leadership, GSE has ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News & World Report's ranking of graduate education programs for two years.