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$3 Million Vagelos Gift: Life Sciences and Management

Roy and Diana Vagelos

Emeritus trustee P. Roy Vagelos, C ’50, Hon ’99, and his wife Diana have made a $3 million gift to Penn to support an innovative undergraduate program in life sciences and management, to be launched by SAS and the Wharton School and named in honor of the Vageloses.

The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management will combine the liberal arts education offered by the School of Arts and Sciences and the business education provided by the Wharton School to give students the scientific and entrepreneurial background necessary for future success in the complex world of biotechnology.

In announcing the gift, President Amy Gutmann said: “The leaders of tomorrow must demonstrate a mastery of multiple disciplines to achieve success. Roy and Diana Vagelos’generosity, coupled with Penn’s highly ranked Wharton School, the School of Arts and Sciences and Penn’s Medical School, all on one campus, place us in a unique position to offer this highly innovative interdisciplinary program.”

The Vagelos program will integrate science and business curricula, leading to either a bachelor of arts degree in science with a business concentration or a bachelor of science degree in economics with a science concentration.  It is designed to prepare undergraduates for careers managing business, nonprofit and government activities in the rapidly growing life sciences sector, which includes such areas as pharmaceuticals, human health, agriculture, animal health, genetics and basic biological and biochemical sciences. Students will follow a curriculum that integrates science and business coursework and includes both business and science internships and a year-long independent research project.  The program will begin accepting participants this fall.

In talking about the program, Dr. Vagelos notes, “While some of our students want careers in the research or medical aspects of life sciences (as I did when I graduated from Penn), others want business careers that are grounded in a real knowledge of the life sciences (something I did in the later part of my career).  It is this latter group that should be interested in this new program.”  He adds that he has “been greatly impressed by the interdisciplinary programs that contribute so much to Penn’s ability to provide our students with the background they seek in preparing for their careers.” 

“The career of Roy Vagelos, who has made tremendous contributions as both a scientist and a businessman, exemplifies the goals of this new program. We are extremely grateful to him and to Diana for this gift, which will enable our students to follow his example,” said Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell, SAS Dean.

Dr. Roy Vagelos, a chemistry major who graduated from Penn in 1950 before going on to receive a medical degree from Columbia University, is the retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. He served as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1999, and he is a former member of the SAS Board of Overseers and the former chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Financial Aid. Diana Vagelos is a former overseer of the Penn Museum. Their many gifts to Penn include the Vagelos Endowed Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences, the Vagelos Science Challenge Scholarship Award, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Roy and Diana Vagelos Chair in Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

“Penn’s strength in the life sciences has grown tremendously in recent years–with much of this progress made under Roy’s watch as chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees,” said Patrick T. Harker, Dean of the Wharton School.  “At the same time, he has been a tireless supporter of Wharton’s programs, and he and Diana have been among Penn’s most generous benefactors.  It’s such an honor to launch this pioneering program under their names and to give some of the most outstanding students an unparalleled academic experience.”



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 11, November 8, 2005


November 8, 2005
Volume 52 Number 11


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