Dornsife Gift to Establish Center on Racism and Health

Dear Colleagues,

I’m extremely proud and excited to announce a $9 million gift from Drexel alumna Dana Dornsife and her husband David to the Dornsife School of Public Health that will put Drexel in the forefront of research on racial inequality and health disparities. Their gift will enable the launch of a new Center on Racism and Health, as well as enhance our ability to recruit and retain faculty experts on racial inequities in health, while also endowing the deanship for public health.

With their incredible generosity, Dana and David Dornsife have transformed both the University and the Dornsife School of Public Health over the past five years. Now with this gift, we will advance solutions to society’s most pressing public health problems as they impact communities of color and lead the way in eliminating health disparities for all.

I’m deeply grateful to the Dornsifes for creating an extraordinary legacy of philanthropic support for Drexel, becoming the largest single benefactors in the University’s history having donated more than $70 million. In addition to their $45 million naming gift to the School of Public Health in 2015, their gifts have established the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, the Dana and David Dornsife Office of Experiential Learning at the LeBow College of Business, and the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program, which partners with World Vision International on development projects related to water, sanitation and hygiene in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Dana and David view their latest gift as a means of growing the capacity of the Dornsife School to improve population health for all and, especially, to be a force for good in the renewed struggle for racial justice. The Center will leverage strengths across Dornsife departments, the Urban Health Collaborative and many partners across the University, while elevating existing work on racial health inequities and promoting new work.

Sharrelle Barber, ScD, an assistant professor at Dornsife, is chairing the planning group to launch the new Center. With the gift, Dornsife will hire two new faculty whose work focuses on racial inequities and health. Additionally, endowing the deanship for public health now held by Ana Diez Roux will support strategic initiatives for the School and enable the dean to strengthen departments and programs, and support faculty and professional staff with the aim of advancing the School’s reputation at home and abroad.

As philanthropists, Dana and David are well-known for helping to solve the most pressing problems facing today’s world through their intelligence, talent, generosity and time. Their steadfast focus is on improving the quality of life for all. Both received honorary Drexel degrees in 2014. 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.

The Dornsifes embody the spirit of The Campaign for Drexel, which strives to catalyze a new era of impact through investments in Drexel’s people and programs. Their generosity, and that of our many other donors, helps Drexel students and faculty respond to tomorrow’s challenges while they shape the future itself.

I’m humbled and gratified that Drexel enjoys the continued leadership support of Dana and David Dornsife.


John Fry

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