Making History Personified: Raymond Perelman Receives Penn Medal for Distinguished Achievement
October 27, 2011
October 26, 2011. It was a celebratory "Academy Award" evening at Penn, but without the sparkling tiaras and cummerbunds.
In full academic regalia and white lab coats, Penn's own dignified academy awarded one of its highest honors — the University of Pennsylvania Medal for Distinguished Achievement — to Raymond G. Perelman.
The occasion, which celebrated the naming of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, drew nearly 350 guests, including select faculty, trustees, friends and family of the Perelmans, and many first-year medical students.
“It is truly an historic day, as we gather to celebrate the naming of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “It is the moment of a lifetime. We are here to celebrate a gift born of the desire to make a difference to the community and to the world. A gift that is the largest gift in the nation to name a medical school — and the largest gift in the history of the University of Pennsylvania. We are here to celebrate the couple who had the vision and desire to positively impact the health of millions of people both now and for generations to come — that couple is Ray Perelman and his late wife Ruth Perelman.”
It was in May that Penn received the Perelmans’ historic $225 million gift to benefit its world-renowned School of Medicine — the nation’s oldest medical school, known for its skillful compassion and perennial top five national rank. The Perelmans’ unrestricted gift established a permanent endowment that will be used to provide significantly more financial aid to medical school students, recruit the most talented physicians and scientists, and support innovative research.
First-year medical students in their white lab coats,
proud members of the Perelman School's inaugural class.
“The Perelmans' gift has set a new bar for the naming of medical schools in the U.S.,” said J. Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “It positions the Perelman School to attract the best students through scholarships that will give them the flexibility to choose the career paths of greatest interest to them. It allows us to attract and retain the best faculty in the country, who will be the mentors for these medical students. And it provides the flexibility for us to invest in highly innovative technology and research at the cutting edge that we can translate into clinical care.”
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A Vision Made Real
The Perelmans’ legacy of philanthropy — and their intention to benefit humankind through the University’s greatest strengths — has crowned not only the School of Medicine, but the University and its Making History Campaign, now in its 6th and penultimate year.
The Perelmans’ forward-looking vision and confidence in Penn began early on when they endowed a first-of-its-kind professorship in internal medicine and pledged $25 million to create the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Since its opening in 2008, the Center has linked Penn’s expert physicians and clinical researchers in critical new ways and unified all the patient care services of the Abramson Cancer Center, the Roberts Proton Therapy Center (in 2009), and the Translational Research Center (in 2011). In all, the Perelman Center has ushered in at Penn a new “geography of medicine” — a nexus of research and clinical facilities where the best in patient care and medical education come together, built on a compact campus whose interdisciplinary strengths of engineering, sciences, medicine, and humanities are in turn coming together to build a stronger University where outstanding students and faculty collaborate.
In May, this geography was “put on the map” when the Perelmans endowed the School of Medicine. Their transformative gift securely positioned the School’s place as the nation’s premier medical school, leading the way in preparing tomorrow’s physicians and positioning Penn at the forefront of innovative medical education, research, and practice in the 21st century.
“It demonstrated incredible vision — and a deep confidence in Penn to transform the health of the world,” said Gutmann.
“The impact of this gift — on the students, on our faculty, on our research, and on our ability not only to impact the city of Philadelphia, but the nation at large — it truly is an amplification phenomenon,” said Jameson.
Mr. Raymond Perelman [center] with his Medal for
Distinguished Achievement and honorary white coat.
Since the School was endowed in May we have seen that amplification already in motion, advancing Penn’s interdisciplinary strengths along with the School’s relentless momentum as the Making History Campaign progressed. In June an interdisciplinary team of researchers in biochemistry and biophysics at the Perelman School and in chemistry, physics and astronomy at the School of Arts and Sciences developed a method to create nanoscale building blocks. In July Penn received $10 million to create the first-of-its-kind Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy, which will marshall the very best of Penn’s integrated expertise, resources, and experience to lead the world in eradicating orphan diseases. In August the ITMAT of the Perelman School of Medicine received $55 million from NIH, while a new center to study health care financing was formed, combining the expertise of faculty from the Perelman School and Wharton. In September — just as Penn was about to reach the $3.5 billion Campaign milestone — we welcomed into our academy one of the world’s leading scholars of bioethics: Ezekiel Emanuel, Penn’s newest PIK professor with a dual appointment in the Perelman School and in Wharton, the 8th of 13 PIK professors to have an appointment in the Perelman School.
Inspired to Lead
Perhaps the greatest quality of the Perelmans’ philanthropy around Penn Medicine is that it is so emblematic of the University’s Making History
Campaign — Penn’s largest comprehensive campaign ever, an historic period during which vision, drive, and momentous milestones
are also creating remarkably transformative impacts by building on the University’s excellence and strengths: increasing access for outstanding students
, endowing more eminent faculty
, creating new programs for integrated knowledge
, and building the facilities where all this is possible
At the end of Wednesday evening’s event it was evident: the same kind of future-looking energy and inspiration that has put the Perelman School of Medicine at the forefront in 21st century medicine is what will, surely, put the University at the forefront in 21st century research and education at the conclusion of the Campaign in 2012.
Congratulations, Ray. We are grateful to you and to your family, whose support and generosity have made such a difference at Penn -- for today and for future generations.
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