Drexel’s School of Public Health Receives Transformative $45 Million Gift from Dana and David Dornsife

Dana and David Dornsife

Drexel University’s School of Public Health has been named the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health in honor of a transformative $45 million gift from longtime philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife widely known for their humanitarian efforts. The couple has donated a total of $58 million to the University.

“It’s a great day for Drexel when philanthropists are moved to support the high-impact work done by our faculty, and a great day when those donors are visionaries like Dana and David Dornsife who inspire us just as much as we might inspire them,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Having seen the Dornsifes’ passion for service firsthand, I am not surprised that Drexel’s human rights-focused public health initiatives have resonated with them.”

In just a few years, Dana and David Dornsife have supported many of Drexel’s initiatives. With a $10 million gift in 2012 they established the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, which—since it opened in June 2014—has catalyzed Drexel’s civic engagement with its surrounding community, encouraging innovative collaboration among students, faculty and local residents in Mantua and Powelton. They have also established the Dana and David Dornsife Office of Experiential Learning at the University’s LeBow College of Business that has expanded the College’s experience-based educational initiatives and increased not only students’ business knowledge but also their cultural awareness. Most recently, they helped create the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program. Open to students across the University, this fully-funded program allows students of all majors and educational levels to work alongside World Vision International partners on development projects related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife are well-known for helping to solve the biggest problems facing today’s world through their intelligence, talent, generosity and time. Their steadfast focus is on improving the quality of life for all people.

Dana Dornsife received her bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel in 1983. She is the founder of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and serves as its president and CEO.

David Dornsife, a University of Southern California trustee and 1965 alumnus, is chairman of the Herrick Corp., the largest steel fabricator and contractor on the West Coast. Herrick’s projects include high rises, specialty projects, hospitals, airports and hotels.

“Drexel’s public health team has an outsized impact on health and human rights in Philadelphia and around the world, as well as on the next generation of public health leaders, and it’s a privilege for David and me to support them and challenge them to take their work to a new level,” said Dana Dornsife. “The fact that this school exists and excels at my alma mater brings me great pride.”

The gift to the School of Public Health will allow the Dornsife School to strengthen its expertise, infrastructure and visibility in urban health, attract and retain top faculty that will contribute to its urban health mission and enhance educational programs and research productivity.

Specifically, the gift will enable the Dornsife School of Public Health to:

Establish a pioneering Urban Health Collaborative: that will focus on improving health in cities by increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of health and health variation within cities, and by promoting urban policies and partnerships that promote health and reduce health inequalities.

Create three endowed professorships: that will support recruitment and retention of top faculty in thematic areas.

Establish four endowed scholarships: that will attract top graduate students and synergistically attract the very best faculty. The Dornsife scholarships will benefit international students from developing countries as well as domestic students from underrepresented minorities or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Expand Drexel's Global Public Health Program: to sustain the Dornsife Global Development Scholars and encompass visiting professorships for faculty from developing countries, graduate student exchanges, online courses and internships for Drexel students with a special focus on global urban health.

Establish a Dean's Strategic Initiatives Fund: that will be critical for the School to address urgent public health issues and seize new opportunities for growth. A Dean’s Strategic Initiatives Fund will enable Dornsife School Dean Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH to move quickly on innovative and entrepreneurial education, research and practice activities in the areas of urban health, health disparities and policy translation.

“The community of Drexel’s School of Public Health is thrilled that Dana and David will partner with us to expand the School’s mission to improve population health through rigorous science, policy translation and community partnerships,” said Diez Roux. “This incredibly generous gift will allow us to attract the best faculty and students, enhance research and education in urban health and other areas, advance in our commitment to health as a human right and make a real difference in the health of Philadelphia and cities around the globe.”

The School is the only fully accredited School of Public Health in the Philadelphia region and one of only two in Pennsylvania. The gift will enable the Dornsife School of Public Health to become internationally recognized on improving health in cities through evidence-based and community-engaged practices and policies.

Founded in 1996 on the principles of health as a human right and the importance of social justice to health, the Dornsife School of Public Health is committed to improving population health and promoting health equity by generating rigorous evidence and transforming that evidence into actions. The School has a special emphasis on improving health in cities, eliminating health disparities and promoting health in all policies. Located at the heart of University City in Philadelphia and linked to a diverse set of local and global partners, the School offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in all areas of public health.