- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia’s Drexel University received a $45 million gift to enhance its public health school’s work in improving urban and global health.

The university on Wednesday renamed the School of Public Health for the donors, alumna Dana Dornsife and her husband, David.

It’s one of the largest gifts to the private university, which has relied on major donors as it expands its physical footprint in the city and refines its mission to have more of a global impact.

The Dornsife gift will be used to position the university, with about 26,000 students, as a leader in the public health effects of urbanization.

The university is launching a program to improve health in cities and eliminating inequalities, creating a fund to address urgent public health issues and expanding a Dornsife-funded effort involving students in getting clean water, sanitation and hygiene to sub-Saharan Africa.

The gift will also fund scholarships and professorships.

“The wonderful thing about this gift is that it really will allow us to tie together a lot of the work that Dana and Dave are already supporting - bridging the local community work with the global work,” said School of Public Health dean Ana Diez Roux.

Dana Dornsife grew up in Yardley and graduated from Drexel in 1983. She founded a lighting design firm and is the founder, president and CEO of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation.

Her husband is chairman of Herrick Corp., the largest steel fabricator and contractor on the West Coast. They gave $200 million to his alma mater, the University of Southern California, in 2011.

The couple has given $58 million to Drexel overall, including $10 million in 2012 to establish the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, which encourages collaboration among students, faculty and local residents in Philadelphia’s Mantua and Powelton neighborhoods.

Two years ago, they launched the Dornsife Global Development Scholars, the program that enables students to spend a semester in Africa working on water projects in Africa.

Philadelphia lawyer Thomas Kline pledged $50 million last year to the law school bearing his name.

Financier Bennett LeBow gave $45 million in 2010 to help construction of a new academic center for the business college that’s named for him.

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