Penn mourns the loss of Raymond G. Perelman

Ray Perelman
Raymond G. Perelman

The University of Pennsylvania is mourning the death of Raymond G. Perelman, one of its most significant and committed partners. Through Mr. Perelman’s peerless generosity and deep and abiding engagement, Penn has become an even greater global force in patient care, research, and medical education.

With his wife, the late Ruth Caplan Perelman, he made a historic $225 million gift creating a permanent endowment for the School of Medicine, which was renamed the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2011. The state-of-the-art Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, created thanks to the couple’s $25 million gift, opened in 2008. In addition, the Perelmans established the first endowed professorship devoted to an active, full-time clinician. 

“We have lost one of Philadelphia’s great citizens,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “I considered Ray a dear friend—both to me and the University—and I am so gratified to know he will be remembered for the countless lives he has touched through his philanthropy. His impact on the University of Pennsylvania, the Perelman School of Medicine, and our city was nothing short of transformative, and it was an honor to have his partnership. Our hearts go out to the Perelman family during this difficult time.”

Mr. Perelman was a powerful advocate for all of Penn Medicine’s missions, from serving on its Board of Trustees to hosting events in his home in Palm Beach, Fla. In his later years, he could be seen on campus or at medical school events like graduation and the celebration of the Perelman School of Medicine’s 250th year. He particularly enjoyed meeting Penn’s incoming medical students.

“His visionary philanthropy has transformed the Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System and forever touched the lives of our patients, students, and faculty,” said J. Larry Jameson, dean of the medical school and executive vice president for the Penn Health System. “He and his lovely wife, Ruth, were a constant inspiration to the Penn and Philadelphia communities, and his remarkable legacy will endure for generations.”

The Perelmans are a true Penn family. Mr. Perelman was a Wharton School alumnus and many of their children and grandchildren, including son and University Trustee Ronald O. Perelman, are Penn graduates. In October 2011, Gutmann presented Mr. Perelman with the University of Pennsylvania Medal for Distinguished Achievement, one of the University’s highest honors; at that point, the medal had been presented on only 14 occasions in the last two decades. He was also recognized by the University with an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2014.

“Penn Medicine has lost a wonderful champion with the passing of Raymond Perelman,” said Ralph W. Muller, chief executive officer of the Penn Health System. “His passionate engagement, together with his late wife, Ruth, in the creation of the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine has resulted in a global model for patient-centered, compassionate health care.”

Raymond Perelman was president and chairman of the board of RGP Holding Inc., a private holding company comprised of a vast array of manufacturing, mining, and financial interests. 

Beyond Penn, the Perelmans were well known for their civic commitment to Philadelphia and, through their unceasing generosity, they ensured that many of the City’s important institutions will continue to grow and prosper. They made path-breaking gifts to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its adjacent Perelman Building, the Kimmel Center and Perelman Theater, the Perelman Jewish Day School, and many other Jewish cultural and welfare organizations. Both the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Drexel University have honored Mr. Perelman’s extraordinary support by naming areas of their campuses in his honor. Their son Ron continues his family’s tradition of impactful philanthropy at Penn.