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November 18, 2019

Penn announces $25 million gift to construct Data Science Building

Development Universities
Penn Data Science Source/University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, alum Harlan M. Stone, and Penn Engineering Nemirovsky Family Dean Vijay Kumar (left to right) at the gift agreement signing to support the construction of a new Data Science Building.

A record $25 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania's College of Engineering and Applied Science will fund the construction of a new Data Science Building, officials announced Monday.

The gift from alumnus Harlan M. Stone, CEO of HMTX Industries, is intended to create a cross-disciplinary hub at 34th and Chestnut Streets, combining the expertise, research and data of all of Penn's 12 schools and other academic centers.

"We are profoundly grateful to Harlan Stone for this exceptional gift," Penn president Amy Gutmann said. "As a loyal Penn alumnus and a long-time friend of Penn Engineering, his vision and leadership are truly inspirational. The Data Science Building will promote collaborations across disciplines as scholars harness data responsibly to discover innovative solutions for crucial issues facing the world."

The Data Science Building will feature active learning classrooms, collaborative spaces for student projects and a data science hub for the entire Penn community.

"I feel very strongly that rigorous application of engineering principles can benefit humanity, especially data science," Stone said. "The possibilities for utilizing data to improve lives around the world are virtually endless and exciting to think about. There is no better place than Penn Engineering for this to be accomplished and I am humbled to help make this a reality."

Research centers within the new building will focus on "socially aware" data sciences methodologies and bio-inspired paradigms for computing, with a goal of developing data-driven, evidence-based solutions for safer, more cost-effective healthcare.

"Data-driven approaches and methodology are being used to drive decision-making and propel innovation in virtually every academic discipline and business," said Vijay Kumar, Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering. “Harlan Stone’s vision and generosity in supporting this new educational and research facility will elevate data science to greater prominence on our campus, fueling Penn Engineering to the forefront of a field that is central to the future of humanity.”

The gift's announcement comes as Penn responds to a backlash against the renaming of the university's law school, which came along with a record-breaking $125 million gift from the W.P. Carey Foundation.  Following protests from current and former law students, Penn announced Monday it will maintain the short-form "Penn Law" title until switching to "Penn Carey Law" in 2022-23.

There was no immediate timeline given for the construction of the Data Science Building.