College of Design, Engineering and Commerce Named for Maurice Kanbar ’52, H’03

Philadelphia University will name the innovative interdisciplinary college for alumnus Maurice Kanbar ’52, H’03, who has donated $15 million in support of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. The $15 million gift is the largest in Philadelphia University history.

“It is with great pride and gratitude that we accept this generous gift from our esteemed alumnus and benefactor Maurice Kanbar,” said Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D. “Mr. Kanbar’s investment in this University is a testament to his belief in our vision, and in the strength and talent of our faculty and students. This is a transformational gift in support of a transformational academic experience.”

Kanbar, an entrepreneur, inventor, Hollywood producer and philanthropist, said the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, with its focus on transdisciplinary learning and identifying and solving real-world problems, will enable students to achieve success in the 21st century work place and contribute to society.

“The College will be of tremendous benefit to students, and make it easier for them to succeed in life,” Kanbar said. “The number one rule to follow is never be happy with the way things are, always be thinking about how to make it better,” he said. “That is basically what I have done my whole life.”

“Through the convergence of the design, engineering and business disciplines and connections with industry partners, the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce pushes students to think beyond the boundaries of existing academic fields,” said Philadelphia University Provost Randy Swearer, Ph.D. “This College, coupled with our Nexus Learning approach, is helping Philadelphia University to revolutionize higher education. Mr. Kanbar’s significant contribution is a vital factor in achieving our vision of being the model for professional university education in the 21st century.”

The Kanbar College, which officially launched in fall 2011, offers students an integrated educational experience that prepares them to think critically about the world, giving them a multi-dimensional understanding of their rapidly evolving fields.

“A hallmark of the Kanbar College requires that all students participate in an integrated core curriculum beginning on the first day of their freshmen year,” said Ronald Kander, Ph.D., executive dean of Kanbar College. “Through our unique curriculum, students learn to ask the right questions, identify problems, deal with complex issues, create opportunities and innovate.  They gain mastery of their specific disciplines along with the added value of expertise in related fields, thus giving them a competitive edge in the workplace.”

To support the College’s innovative curriculum, Philadelphia University is constructing a new building, set to open in January 2013, which will include flexible space for studios, seminars, conference meetings and team projects, allowing teaching and work space to be reconfigurable as projects and curricula evolve. The 38,500-square-foot building, built to LEED standards, will reinforce the College’s integrated curriculum that pushes students to think beyond the boundaries of existing disciplines and focus on market-driven innovation through teamwork, collaboration and industry connections.

In addition to his latest donation, Kanbar gave $6 million for The Kanbar Campus Center, which opened in fall 2006. His support of Philadelphia University and other academic programs stems from a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of education. “Without an education a person is lost,” he said.  “With an education a person has a chance. With a good education, a person has a better chance.”

In 2003, Philadelphia University awarded Kanbar, who invented SKYY Vodka, the D-Fuzz-It sweater comb and produced several films (including the animated movie Hoodwinked), the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Posted in University Headlines