Phila U. alum donates $15 million to the East Falls school

A Philadelphia University alumnus has made a substantial donation to his alma mater – the largest ever in the private school’s nearly 130-year history.

Entrepreneur, inventor and Hollywood producer, Maurice Kanbar, recently gave the East Falls-based institution $15 million to support an emerging, interdisciplinary program scheduled to have its own building in 2013.

Last summer, the university broke ground on a $20 million structure to house the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. As a token of appreciation, the school will now be named after Kanbar, a 1952 graduate.

“The College will be of tremendous benefit to students, and make it easier for them to succeed in life,” said Kanbar in a news release. “The number one rule to follow is never to be happy with the way things are, always be thinking about how to make it better.”

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Scheduled to open in January 2013, the Design, Engineering and Commerce building will have 38,500 square-feet of space and is being built to LEED standards.

The college’s curriculum promotes collaboration among students in an effort to simulate real world work flow and stimulate innovation.

Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said a portion of Kanbar’s gift will go towards covering the bottom line of the DEC building. The money will also be used, among other things, to give a boost to existing academic programs and efforts to upgrade current buildings on campus.

“We have an enhanced curriculum, some new leadership and terrific professional talent to implement it and a new building to really allow us to grow,” said Spinelli. “He saw that and said, ‘You guys take action and I want to help fund it.'”

Kanbar, perhaps most recognized for inventing SKYY Vodka, previously made a $6 million donation to the university to help fund the Kanbar Campus Center. That building opened in 2006.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that the new building would be named after Maurice Kanbar. This is not the case. The new school, the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, will now be named after him, not the building. NewsWorks regrets the error. 

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