The new science building scheduled to open next year at Wilkes University will be known as the Lawrence and Sally Cohen Science Center, in recognition of the couple’s $2.5 million gift in support of the project.
The donation is the largest cash gift from an individual in Wilkes’ history and caps decades of strong support from the Cohen family. The $35 million, 72,500-square-foot facility is being built as the most advanced educational facility in the region. It will house Wilkes’ award-winning biology and health sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, and environmental engineering and earth science programs.
“The Cohen 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,” says Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy.
Michael Wood, vice president for University advancement, says he first met Cohen in 2006 and that he has come to learn he is a “straight shooter with a big heart…. You always know where you stand with him, and he’s never been afraid to speak his mind on behalf of students.” That support for students was evident during the 14 years Cohen served as a member of Wilkes’ Board of Trustees. He was granted trustee emeritus status in 2008.
Future students will benefit from their studies and research at the center much the way Cohen’s Wilkes education served him.
Cohen says his Wilkes accounting degree provided “a very good foundation” for his graduate studies and lifelong career in business. He specifically mentioned his Wilkes classes in statistics, business law, business correspondence and even biology. He truly enjoyed—and still has the textbook from—a required class in world literature which was famous for its intensity. The professor was very dramatic, gave tough tests and was a fabulous teacher, he says.
Cohen says, “I have a warm spot in my heart for Wilkes,” adding that the donation is good for Wilkes and good for the entire Wyoming Valley.