Drexel University announced Tuesday, in the University Quad, a record $45 million gift from corporate executive and alumnus Bennett S. LeBow to build a new College of Business academic center.
The $45 million donation is the largest donation to a business school in the history of Pennsylvania and the 12th largest in the U.S. according to the business school’s Dean George Tsetsekos. This donation also puts the school amongst the top eight in the country in philanthropy for a business school.
The building will stand 12 stories tall and house the entire business school, featuring a finance trading lab, 300-seat auditorium, five-story atrium, special areas for experiential learning simulations and business consulting, videoconferencing capabilities and a recording studio to support LeBow College’s online programs according to the architects, Robert A.M. Stern and Voith & Mactavish, LLP, a Philadelphia based firm.
The two firms have worked with several universities such as Moore College of Arts and Design, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown and Yale and have many renowned buildings. They also said that this building will include extensive areas for students, professors and staff to gather socially and to work collaboratively. The building will set worldwide environmental standards with a Green Globe certification and the exterior will be constructed of a limestone similar to that used in the nearby iconic 30th Street Train Station and the former U.S. Post Office.
The building will be replacing a dilapidated Matheson Hall on 32nd and Market Street, and will be more or less the face of the University campus. It will join a flurry of recent campus development at Drexel alongside the newly completed Earl Mack School of Law, Race Street Residence, Millennium Hall, and new athletic center, along with the Papadakis Integrated Science Center, currently under construction and the near future renovation of the URBN Center for the school of arts and sciences along with numerous landscape improvements and other projects.
Mayor Michael Nutter also spoke at the event saying “Drexel has been a great partner to the city, continuing a theme of excellence in difficult times,” adding that the building will add 500 students to the university and will create 175 jobs while continuing to improve public safety, educational attainment, environmental friendliness, and further neighborhood enrichment. “People know a good school when they see it and Drexel is amongst the best,” Nutter said.
“This college is light years ahead of where it used to be. Here at LeBow, success is not just attainable but inevitable,” a tenured business professor at LeBow said during the event, “thus this building is an instrument of the students’ future.”
LeBow, a native of West Philadelphia, made his fortune as a turnaround specialist, investing in struggling companies and is currently chairman of the board of Borders Group, an international bookseller based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and chairman of the board of Vector Group Ltd., a private equity firm that has focused on real estate and tobacco products.
He is a 1960 electrical engineering graduate of Drexel and enrolled in the co-op program, which gave him the opportunity to work and attend school simultaneously “I couldn’t afford to go anywhere else,” he said in an interview prior to the event, “Drexel is my alma mater. It got me going on everything.”
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