Temple University named medical school after Lewis Katz

Jas Chana

(JTA) — Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has officially named its medical school after the late Jewish-American businessman and philanthropist Lewis Katz.

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine debuted Tuesday in a naming ceremony held at Temple University, the university said in a statement. Friends of the university, as well as friends and relatives of the Katz family, gathered to commemorate Katz’s legacy and dedicate the building.

Katz’s children, Drew and Melissa, attended the ceremony, where they were presented with the vintage cast-iron owl that has adorned the front of the medical school building since 1930. U.S. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Robert Casey, D-Pa., also were in attendance.

A portrait of Katz by Italian artist Francesco Mernini, to be displayed in the lobby of the building, was unveiled.

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The naming of the medical school follows Katz death in May 2014 in a private plane crash. Just before he died, Katz, who graduated from Temple University in 1963, announced he would be donating $25 million to the university, a gift designated for its medical school.

Katz supported his alma mater throughout his life, with donations and by serving on the university’s board of trustees. In 2014, he delivered an impassioned graduation speech in which he described Temple University as being “recognized, respected and loved by its alumni.”

“Lewis was an inspirational leader and a powerful force at Temple, and he will remain so,” Patrick O’Connor, chairman of Temple University’s Board of Trustees said in the statement.  “Above all, he was a brilliant friend. With the naming of our medical school, we will remember and honor him eternally.”

Katz amassed his fortune by investing in parking lot and billboard companies. He went on to own two of New Jersey’s professional sports teams, the New Jersey Nets, the National Basketball Association team now based in Brooklyn, and the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils. At the time of his death he was also the co-owner of the daily newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer.  

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