CUMC receives $50 million Vagelos gift for medical education building

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Diana and Roy Vagelos / Photo: Brandon SchulmanP. Roy Vagelos ’54PS and his wife, Diana Vagelos ’55BC, have donated $50 million to support the construction of a new medical and graduate education building at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

The new facility, to be named in the couple’s honor, has been proposed for CUMC property on Haven Avenue. Its planned construction is part of an overall medical center campus revitalization that will create a new front entrance to the medical school, consolidate student services, renovate several existing buildings, and add green space, thus creating a more campus-like atmosphere at CUMC. The projected cost for the entire project is $185 million.

“When I first came to the College of Physicians and Surgeons 60 years ago, the facilities were first-rate, as many of them had just been recently built,” says Roy Vagelos, a former chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. “Naturally, over time, some of them have aged, and new technologies and teaching resources are now required to provide the best modern education opportunities. We are training the doctors who will deliver medical care, the scientists who will perform groundbreaking scientific research, and the teachers who will help train the future generation of physicians and scientists. It is important that their educational facilities are as exciting as medical science is today.”

Roy Vagelos chairs the medical center’s Board of Visitors and has served as cochair of the University’s fundraising campaign and chair of CUMC’s campaign. Diana Vagelos is vice chair of the Barnard College Board. They previously made a naming gift for Barnard College’s newest building, a hub of student life called the Diana Center.

“It is clear that whatever the benefits Roy and Diana Vagelos may have gained from attending Columbia and Barnard, they have given back even more to our university through decades of service and support, and we are enormously grateful,” says Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “With this latest demonstration of generosity, they are helping establish a new sense of community and campus life at our medical center in Washington Heights that is so important to our attracting future generations of talented medical students and faculty. Roy Vagelos’s understanding of the resources required to train today’s top medical researchers and clinicians, and his deep and abiding engagement with Columbia, have made him an invaluable partner in our long-term plans to enhance all aspects of life and learning at our medical center.”

The Vageloses’ $50 million pledge for the medical education building is the largest gift that CUMC has received as part of the ongoing fundraising campaign it launched in 2004. With its receipt, the campaign for the College of Physicians and Surgeons has raised more than $1 billion.

Says CUMC head Lee Goldman: “This new education building will ensure that Columbia continues to produce superior doctors and researchers, trained in the latest techniques, as medicine continues to evolve rapidly throughout the 21st century. The building also will allow us to centralize key activities in a state-of-the-art facility that reflects our commitment to world-class education and the quality of student life.”

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