$10 million gift to Drexel University will support underrepresented students and civic partnerships
Ronald W. Disney and his wife Kathleen with Drexel students and Brian Ellis, PhD, executive director of the Goodwin College of Professional Studies, which created LeBow BRIDGE.
A $10 million pledge from Drexel University alumnus Ronald W. Disney and his wife Kathleen will help promote diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Drexel by providing funding from scholarships and program support for students from underrepresented backgrounds, primarily at the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business.
The donation was made as a bequest and will also provide financial support for a mentorship program for West Philadelphia public school students; hunger and poverty research in the Philadelphia area; and mental health and wellness counseling and programs for Drexel students. The LeBow College portion of the pledge is the second-largest donation made to the business school by an individual.
“I am deeply grateful to Ron and Kathy Disney for their visionary generosity to Drexel and our neighbors in Philadelphia,” said Drexel President John Fry. “Their far-reaching gift demonstrates not only their commitment to expanding educational opportunities and quality programs to the widest range of talented students, but also their confidence in Drexel’s civic engagement mission to promote health equity. and help create more equitable learning environments in our city’s public schools.
Prior to this gift, Ronald and Kathleen Disney established two endowment funds to benefit LeBow College students participating in Build Relationships in Diverse Group Experiences (BRIDGE), a learning community established at Drexel in 2012 to support students from diverse backgrounds. underrepresented in their future development. leaders in their profession.
“The magnitude of Ron and Kathy’s generous gift is extraordinary,” said Vibhas Madan, PhD, Dean and R. John Chapel, Junior Dean Chair at LeBow College. “Opening our doors to the widest range of able students is our top priority, and we are so grateful to Disney for helping us achieve this goal. Their far-reaching commitment will have a multidimensional impact on our efforts to support student success – now and in the future.
Including $1 million from that previous commitment, the new gift creates nine endowment funds that will be named in honor of the donors.
Disney endowment funds that will provide direct financial support to students, including a scholarship fund for undergraduate business and engineering students participating in BRIDGE and graduate students enrolled in joint MD/MBA and JD/MBA programs ; a cooperative fund providing financial support to LeBow College students for unpaid or underpaid cooperative education experiences; and an “Operation Graduation” fund providing scholarships to LeBow College undergraduates at risk of not graduating due to financial hardship.
Disney endowment funds created to support student access, opportunity and success in college include:
- A fund that supports initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at LeBow College, including the participation of current and prospective students in conferences and professional development programs, and the recruitment of faculty and professional staff .
- A fund providing operational support for BRIDGE programs at LeBow College and other Drexel schools, as well as Camp BRIDGE, a two-week summer college program designed to introduce high school students to the college experience.
- A Counseling Support Fund supporting mental health and wellness workshops, counseling programs, mentorship programs, and academic and career advisory resources for LeBow College students.
- A research and innovation fund supporting LeBow College’s efforts to promote student success by further aligning with industry partners to develop new program offerings, provide experiential learning opportunities in the classroom, integrating faculty research into curricula, and updating technology.
The endowment funds will also support community-focused initiatives, including Drexel’s efforts to launch and maintain a mentorship program, developed with the Philadelphia School District, for students attending Samuel A. Powel Elementary School and the middle school Science Leadership Academy. To address hunger and economic insecurity, the funds will also support collaborative research projects and work between LeBow College and Drexel’s Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health that address hunger and poverty in the Philadelphia.
Ronald Disney is chairman of Disney Bingham Investments, a Dallas-based healthcare investment and advisory firm. He has held positions in the healthcare industry for over 40 years, including consulting, hospital management, and the development and operation of day surgery centers.
A native of Baltimore, Ronald Disney earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce and engineering in 1972 from Drexel’s College of Business and Administration. The school was renamed in 1999 after Bennett S. LeBow, a 1960 graduate of Drexel’s College of Engineering, following his transformative gift to the business school.
“Drexel has had a profound impact on my life, including two and a half years of hands-on co-op experience,” Ronald Disney said. “It is a true privilege to give back and help others access similar opportunities and to advance Drexel’s mission of active community engagement.”
Kathleen Disney met her future husband in Baltimore while pursuing a Drexel co-op at Western Electric Company.
“Ron and I are so happy to be able to give this gift,” she said. “We have always been concerned that not everyone has the same opportunities to make the most of their talents and abilities. By supporting Drexel and its neighboring communities, we can do something about it.
The Disney giveaway marks the final leg of Drexel’s fundraising and commitment campaign, The future is a place we make, which launched publicly in 2017 and will officially end on June 30, 2022. With this new commitment, the campaign surpassed $775 million in donations. The campaign advances the University’s highest strategic priorities, including creating pathways for student support and success; growing commitment to access, diversity and inclusion; the promotion of pioneering approaches in teaching and learning; accelerate high-impact, multidisciplinary research and innovation; and deepening civic engagement. In addition to its financial goals, the campaign aims to engage a wider circle of Drexel alumni in the life of the University.