A Couple Steps Up: $45 Million Goes to Public Health at Drexel University

Some people really retain the old school spirit, and long after they graduate, are good enough to support their alma maters in the form of big academic donations. If you're a university, it's especially great to have Dana and David Dornsife as alums.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Dornsife largesse is the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. David Dornsife, who is chairman of Herrick Corp., a major steel fabricator, is a USC alum, and the couple's $200 million gift to USC's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 2011 is the largest in that university's history. That's significant, considering USC's recent impressive fundraising growth and the substantial generosity of its alums and other givers.

The Dornsifes' donation was an important gift, indeed—the place is now called the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Now it's Dana Dornsife's turn (again) to show some school spirit. The couple has opened their checkbook to Drexel University, in Philadelphia, where Dana Dornsife got her college degree.  

Their recently announced $45 million gift to Drexel's School of Public Health, now called the Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health, will enable the school to dramatically expand and strengthen its operations across the board, particularly in urban health, an area of particular focus for Drexel.

The donation funds Drexel's Urban Health Collaborative, creates three endowed professorships and four endowed scholarships, expands its Global Public Health Program, and establishes a Dean's Strategic Initiative Fund.

This latest gift brings the Dornsife's total giving to Drexel to $58 million. A $10 million gift in 2012 established the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Drexel also established the Dana and David Dornsife Office of Experiential Learning at the university’s LeBow College of Business, and helped create the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program.

Dana Dornsife, who co-founded a couple of architectural lighting companies, is also founder, president and CEO of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, which provides assistance to cancer patients during treatments, and connects them to clinical trials that may extend their lives.  

Dornsife family loyalty to USC goes back a generation. David Dornsife’s parents, Harold and Ester, were also USC alumni. They provided key support for the USC Hedco Neuroscience Building, which established the university's leadership in the field of neuroscience.