PHILADELPHIA -- Jay H. Baker, president of Kohl's Corporation, the Wisconsin-based specialty department store, and his wife, Patty, have made an $11 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania, according to an announcement today (Oct. 7) by University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin.
Dr. Rodin said that "...in making this generous gift, the Bakers will greatly enhance the student experience at Penn and provide essential scholarship support."
Mr. Baker, a 1956 graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has been president of Kohl's for more than a decade. During his tenure, Kohl's has been acknowledged as one of the best-managed department store chains in America. He will retire as president of Kohl's at the end of 1999, but will continue to serve on its board of directors. Mrs. Baker, who was graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College in New York City, holds a degree in theatre and art history.
Dr. Rodin said the gift from the Bakers will support the construction of an undergraduate center, which will be named The Jay H. Baker Forum, and endow The Baker Leadership Scholars Program, providing financial support to undergraduates throughout the University. The Baker Forum will be located within Jon M. Huntsman Hall, the new 320,000-square-foot academic center currently under construction on campus.
The Bakers' scholarship commitment, representing $3 million of the total, is among the largest ever made to the University of Pennsylvania in support of undergraduate student financial aid.
"This magnificent gift will significantly enhance our facilities at the Wharton School, providing a focal point for undergraduate life and activities," Dr. Rodin said. "It also will provide invaluable assistance to the best, most talented students so they can attend Penn regardless of their families' financial resources.
"We are extremely grateful to Jay and Patty," Dr. Rodin said. "Their collective vision and commitment to the University of Pennsylvania will make an enormous difference in the lives of future generations of our students."
New and improved academic facilities and increased financial support for undergraduate students are among Penn's highest priorities identified in Agenda for Excellence, the University's of Pennsylvania's strategic plan. Agenda for Excellence was designed to solidify the University's position as one of the world's premier urban teaching and research institutions. Since July 1, 1996, more than $566 million has been raised in support of Agenda priorities.
The two-story Jay H. Baker Forum will be located at the center of Huntsman Hall, adjacent to undergraduate computer labs, group workstations and study spaces. It is the largest single space in the building and the first and only Wharton facility large enough to accommodate an entire undergraduate class--up to 500 people--indoors. The building is being designed by the award-winning architectural firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC, New York, N.Y.
The Baker Leadership Scholars Program will provide financial support to outstanding undergraduate students who have demonstrated high achievement in academic, artistic or athletic pursuits, or the ability to rise above adversity, but are unable to meet the cost of education at the University of Pennsylvania. A total of 12 Baker Leadership Scholarships will be awarded each academic year. Three initial Baker Scholars will be chosen from the Class of 2004.
In addition to their support of the University of Pennsylvania, Jay and Patty Baker have been ardent supporters of the performing arts and other institutions. Mr. Baker, as chair of the United Performing Arts Fund, led a fundraising drive to raise $10 million for Milwaukee's various performing arts. Prior to that he and Patty co-chaired the "Campaign to Create the Future" for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater raising more than $10 million. In recognition of their $3 million gift, the theater honored them by naming the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex for them. They also established The Pat and Jay Baker Foundation to support charities and have supported many other organizations and charities in Milwaukee and Naples, Fla.