NEW YORK – Barnard College is the beneficiary of the latest in a string of gifts to educational institutions by Diana and Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, who have supported the College for three decades.
The Vagelos gift of $20 million will aid in the creation of a 128,000 square foot, state-of-the-art teaching and learning center.
The donation was announced as part of a package of $70 million, the three largest gifts in its history, that included gifts from two other prominent New York families—$25 million from Cheryl Glicker Milstein and Philip Milstein; $25 million from The Tow Foundation on behalf of Leonard Tow and daughter Emily Tow Jackson
The gifts towards the teaching and learning center support a key component in Barnard becoming one of the first liberal arts colleges among its peers to institute a distinct technology requirement, beginning with the class of 2020.
“Barnard was founded on the idea that women deserve equal education and opportunity and, for more than 125 years, the College has provided the highest standard of liberal arts education to young women of intellect and ambition from all walks of life,” Barnard President Debora L. Spar said. “We are deeply honored by the exceptional generosity and long friendship of the Milstein, Tow and Vagelos families. Their gifts are transformative in every sense, allowing our campus to be as trailblazing, expansive and inspiring as our faculty, students and alumnae. With their gifts for this magnificent building, they have helped ensure that Barnard has the physical and technological capacity necessary to grow and deliver on its mission for decades to come.”
Diana Vagelos ’55 majored in economics at Barnard and today serves as vice chair of the board, chairs the committee on campus life, and sits on the executive committee. Together, Diana and husband Roy Vagelos, who is a 1954 alumnus of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and chair of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and former CEO of Merck & Co., are renowned for a range of volunteer and philanthropic initiatives. In keeping with their interest in the life sciences, their $20 million gift will create the teaching and learning center’s computational science center and an endowed director position for this center as well as an endowed chair in chemistry. The couple’s earlier $15 million gift to Barnard was the lead donation to build The Diana Center, a campus hub for student life that opened in 2010.
“At Barnard in the 1950’s, I was a scholarship student encouraged to pursue the study of the exciting and challenging field of economics.” Diana Vagelos said. “It is especially satisfying for us at this time to be helping Barnard students enter the age of ‘big data’ produced by the rapidly developing digital revolution.”
This distinctive facility, which will open in August of 2018, is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and will be built by Turner Construction. The center will give faculty and students double the amount of classroom, laboratory and study space; provide an enhanced library, special collections and archival space; house the College’s signature programs, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Barnard Center for Research on Women; and create a new computational science center as well as a digital commons with five innovative teaching labs that utilize new media and digital technologies.
“Sharp intellectual curiosity, rigorous training and an open, bold approach to life have been among the hallmarks of a Barnard education,” Spar said. “These generous gifts from the Milstein, Tow and Vagelos families are in keeping with this deeply embedded spirit. Thanks to them, Barnard has a creative solution to ensure that our four-acre space will never constrain our mission, but continue to serve as our students’ gateway to a world without limitations.”