Wilkes University announced that its new science center will be named the Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center. The name of the science center honors Wilkes alumnus Lawrence Cohen ’57 and his wife Sally, who are contributing $2.5 million to the Achieving Our Destiny Campaign in support of the project. The gift is among the largest outright gifts from an individual alumnus in the University’s history and caps decades of strong support from the Cohen family.
Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy said that the gift does more than fund a facility: It also supports Wilkes students. “The generosity of Larry and Sally Cohen over the decades and today in particular ensures that Wilkes students will study and conduct research in outstanding facilities for years to come. Their gift will allow Wilkes to continue its tradition as a national leader in the sciences, preparing the researchers, health-care providers and scientific innovators of tomorrow. Future generations of Wilkes students will owe a debt to the Cohens,” Leahy said.
The Cohen gift brings to $13.5 million the total amount raised to date in the $20 million Achieving Our Destiny Campaign. Cohen, a trustee emeritus on Wilkes Board of Trustees, said making the gift reflects his commitment to his alma mater and the Wyoming Valley and his enthusiasm for the education that students receive at Wilkes.
“I’m bullish about Wilkes, and I’m both excited and enthusiastic about the University’s future under President Leahy. Our gift is an endorsement of Wilkes’ bright future. As an alumnus, I believe there is no better way to show your commitment than by providing financial support,” Cohen said. “It was a great institution when I graduated and I’m confident that the best is yet to come.”
Trustee Michael Mahoney serves as chair of the Achieving Our Destiny Campaign, and trustees Hedy Wrightson Rittenmeyer of the class of 1972 and John Cefaly of the class of 1970 are co-chairs. Frank M. Henry and William B. Sordoni are honorary chairs. Mahoney said that the gift from the Cohens comes as Wilkes is launching the alumni phase of the fundraising campaign.
“This wonderful commitment to the science center at Wilkes University is a fabulous jump start to the alumni phase of the Achieving Our Destiny Campaign. This generous gift from alumni Larry Cohen and his wife Sally is a ‘call to arms’ for Colonels everywhere to help us complete the $20 million campaign and give back to our students, the University’s future alumni,” Mahoney said. “All alumni will have the opportunity to join the Army of Colonels in support of this important project.”
Lawrence Cohen, a Wilkes-Barre native, is chairman of Benco Dental Co., a national distributor of dental supplies and equipment founded by his late father in 1930. Benco is the largest, privately owned dental equipment and supply distributor in the United States. Cohen is semi-retired and the company now is operated by his sons, Charles, a Wilkes trustee, and Richard, both of whom are managing directors of Benco Dental Co. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Cohen served as a member of Wilkes University’s Board of Trustees for 14 years before being granted trustee emeritus status in 2008. He has served on boards of the Jewish Community Center, Guard Insurance Group, Guard Security Bank, the American Dental Trade Association and the Visiting Nurses Association. He received the Transformational Leader Award from the American Dental Trade Association in 2002. Cohen graduated from Wilkes in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and went on to earn a master’s degree in management and finance from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
For more information about Wilkes University’s Achieving Our Destiny Campaign and its science center project, visit www.wilkes.edu/achieve
About Wilkes University’s Science Center Project
Construction began in March 2012 on the $35 million science center, which is on schedule for completion in time for the opening of the fall 2013 semester. Steel structural and concrete work has been completed and interior work will begin by the end of the fall semester. The $35 million facility will house Wilkes’ award-winning biology and health sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, and environmental engineering and earth science programs. The 72,500-square-foot center will be the most advanced educational facility in the region with state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratory space. It is designed by SaylorGregg Architects of Philadelphia, with laboratory space designed by Nalls Architecture of Narberth, Pa., a specialist in science laboratories.
The four-story facility will face River Street between the University’s Annette Evans Alumni House and Conyngham Hall and arc around the end of the Stark Learning Center into the Fenner Quadrangle, the green centerpiece of the Wilkes campus. The third floor of the Center will contain interdisciplinary research space to enhance the faculty/student research projects that are a hallmark of science education at Wilkes. Undergraduate research projects are encouraged and required in all Wilkes science programs.
The University is seeking silver-level LEED certification for the Center. LEED certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and specifies that sustainable practices will be used in constructing and operating the Center. The Wilkes Center will incorporate sustainable polished concrete, Forest Stewardship Council-rated wood that is harvested responsibly, energy-efficient lighting and windows glazed with low-emittance coatings that save energy.
About Wilkes University
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring and hands on learning in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university provides its students with the experience, mentoring and education necessary for career and intellectual development as well as personal growth. Named one of the fastest-growing universities in the United States by The Chronicle of Higher Education,
Wilkes offers the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education and doctor of pharmacy degrees and more than a dozen master’s degree programs, including the master of business administration and master of fine arts in creative writing. For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu