Announcing the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health

Dear Member of the Drexel Community:

It's a good day for Drexel when philanthropists are moved to support the high-impact work done by our faculty and students. It's a great day when those donors are visionaries who inspire us just as much as we might inspire them.

Today is a great day, because I have the privilege to announce that Dana and David Dornsife have made a remarkable $45 million gift to support Drexel's School of Public Health. In recognition of their transformative commitment, the school will be named the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health.

This brings to $58 million the total donations to Drexel made by the Dornsifes since 2011. Dana is a 1983 LeBow College of Business graduate who founded and leads the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. David chairs the Herrick Corp., the largest steel fabricator and contractor on the West Coast, and is a graduate and trustee of the University of Southern California, where he and Dana are also leading benefactors.

Through their philanthropy, the Dornsifes are known on both coasts and several continents as hands-on problem solvers. They put not just their resources but also their hearts and their backs into empowering communities that face challenges. I learned this when I traveled with them to Africa, where they work with World Vision International to build wells that provide safe water for millions of people.

Having seen firsthand their passion for service, I am not surprised that Drexel's public health initiatives resonated with them. Our School of Public Health was founded on the principle that health must be viewed as a human right. Today, led by Dean Ana Diez-Roux, MD, PhD, the school provides innovative community-based education for public health professionals and conducts research and community outreach benefiting many thousands of people each year. Visit a Philadelphia neighborhood tackling deeply rooted health disparities, or a developing nation in need of basic public health infrastructure, and you'll likely meet a Drexel student or faculty member partnering with the community on a solution. Thanks to Dana and David, the power of that work will be greatly amplified in the years to come.

Their gift will enable the Dornsife School of Public Health to:

  • Establish the pioneering Drexel Urban Health Collaborative to focus on improving health in cities by increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness 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 accomplished faculty.
    Establish four endowed scholarships that will attract gifted graduate students, including international students from developing countries as well as American students from underrepresented groups 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 to address urgent public health issues and seize new opportunities for innovative and entrepreneurial education, research and practice activities in the areas of urban health, health disparities and policy translation.
  • Today's gift is the capstone of an already stellar Drexel legacy for Dana and David. They previously helped us create the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, catalyzing Drexel's civic engagement with its neighbors in Mantua and Powelton; the Dana and David Dornsife Office of Experiential Learning, supporting LeBow College's experience-based educational initiatives; and the
  • Dornsife Global Development Scholars program, which allows students of all majors and educational levels to work alongside World Vision International partners on development projects related to water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa.

The fact that the Dornsifes followed up those gifts with this one is especially gratifying. They are uniquely qualified to judge whether Drexel is an effective and innovative steward for major philanthropic commitments, and their judgment is a resounding yes.

Please join me in congratulating Dean Diez-Roux and all her faculty, students and professional staff on this extraordinary validation of their work, and in thanking Dana and David Dornsife for making Drexel an integral partner in their quest to improve lives around the world.


John A. Fry

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