Greek donates $250 million to Columbia’s Medical School
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Greek donates $250 million to Columbia’s Medical School

Dr. Roy Vagelos, 88, the former chairman of Merck & Co., and his wife, Diana, are donating $250 million to the Columbia’s Medical School.

$150 million of which will fund an endowment that the school projects will ultimately enable it to underwrite its student financial aid. Those students with the greatest financial need would receive full-tuition scholarships, while others would get only grants, not loans, to make up their need, the school said.

With the gift, which is in addition to some $60 million already donated by the couple, the medical school will be officially renamed the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger, announced on Monday evening.

The Vageloses met on campus in 1951, while Roy Vagelos (P&S ‘54) was in medical school at Columbia and Diana Touliatou (BC ’55) was a student at Barnard College. They had much in common, including the fact that their parents had immigrated from Greece. They married in 1955. Diana currently serves as vice chair of the Barnard Board of Trustees, and Barnard’s multi-use Diana Center building, completed in 2010, is named in honor of her leadership. Both received scholarships to support their higher educations and have been giving back to scholarship funds for more than 50 years.

“This idea of giving young people the kind of support that allowed us to pursue our own educations Penn, Barnard and Columbia has been a driving force in our lives for some time,” said Dr. Vagelos, who chairs the Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Board of Advisors and co-chairs the current University campaign, The Columbia Commitment. “We want P&S graduates to be able to do what they really love to do in their lives and in the medical profession, whether it’s in biomedical research or clinical care.  We’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to make a difference and we want to be sure future Columbians will have the same opportunity.”

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