The transformation of a historic building in the heart of campus will in turn revolutionize two thriving academic departments, uniting Political Science and Economics into one centrally located home and fostering greater collaboration and efforts of these two popular undergraduate majors.
Made possible by a leadership gift from Ronald O. Perelman, W’64, WG’66, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics will, upon its 2018 completion, transform the former West Philadelphia Trust Building, at 36th and Walnut streets, into a social sciences hub that will foster the teaching and research experiences required to facilitate direct contributions to pressing matters of national and international concern.
“This gift underscores my deeply held belief that our next generation must be given the tools to not only understand but positively impact government and the increasingly complex global economy,” said Perelman, an emeritus member of Penn’s Board of Trustees.
A Hub for Social Sciences
Envisioned as a campus nexus in the 24/7 digital world of fiscal cliffs, changing tax policy, the European Union crisis, and global struggles over human rights, the Perelman Center will be home to distinguished research centers and programs, including the Center for Advanced Study of India, the Center for Opinion Research and Election Studies, the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics, the Penn Institute for Economic Research, and the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. Through public engagements, seminars, special workshops, and outreach, these centers will bring interdisciplinary scholarly expertise to bear on contemporary events both near and far.
Penn’s distinguished Economics and Political Science faculty members, currently dispersed throughout campus in older facilities and off-campus rental space, will be united in the new Perelman Center, where they can take advantage of opportunities for intellectual interaction, collaboration, and synergies in teaching and scholarship. The new Center will also provide a stimulating cross-disciplinary environment where talented graduate students can make significant contributions to both social science research and public policy.
Enhancing the Undergraduate Experience
The social sciences are crucial to undergraduate education at Penn: Economics and Political Science are two of the most popular undergraduate majors, and the departments also serve students majoring in International Relations (IR) and the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program.
Providing state-of-the-art space for teaching and learning, the Perelman Center will enhance Penn students’ capacity to pursue original research, draw on sophisticated computing resources, and develop strong mentoring relationships with faculty. The new center will include a dedicated “undergraduate central” area where students can study independently, plan and host events for some 12 undergraduate student groups in political science and economics, and receive advising support.
Making Penn’s Impact Possible
Philanthropic support of Penn is a Perelman family tradition. A frequent donor to the University, Ronald Perelman’s past gifts have funded the Perelman Quadrangle; undergraduate financial aid; the Wharton School; athletics; and medicine. He is the son of Raymond G. and the late Ruth Perelman, who made the largest single gift in the University’s history―$225 million to Penn’s School of Medicine, now the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine.
“I am proud to continue my support of this extraordinary institution that means so much to me and my family,” said Perelman.