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  • Fisher Fine Arts Library, home to the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

Energy Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania Receives $30 Million Gift

PHILADELPHIA — The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania today received an anonymous $30 million gift that will support continued programming at the Center.

Underscoring Penn’s commitment to energy and sustainability, the $30 million gift arrives on the heels of a $50 million gift from alumni Roy (C'50, HON'99) and Diana Vagelos to build a new science center for researchers focused on energy science. This gift also follows Penn President Amy Gutmann’s 2017 announcement that Driving Energy Solutions would be one of the top priorities for the multi-year Power of Penn Campaign, currently underway.

“Outstanding faculty enable Penn to drive energy solutions," said President Gutmann.  “In addition to supporting innovative programming, this gift will enable Penn to hire new faculty who specialize in energy policy. Through their scholarship, these faculty will influence today's critical energy policy decisions. Through their teaching, they will help develop tomorrow’s energy policy leaders.”

"Our alumni are profoundly invested in the future of the University, and we have seen the depth of their generosity these past few weeks," said Frederick Steiner (MRP'77, MA'86, PhD'86), Dean and Paley Professor at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where the Kleinman Center is housed.  The School was named last month in recognition of Mr. Weitzman’s (W'63) lifetime commitment to and support of Penn. "This new gift to the Kleinman Center ensures its place among the nation's premier energy policy research centers."

The multi-faceted nature of energy policy leads the Kleinman Center to collaborate with many schools and disciplines at Penn, including law, design, business, arts and sciences, and engineering. In the years to come, the Center plans to expand the programming it already offers faculty and students across campus. 

The Center currently provides support to faculty for new or existing energy policy research on topics ranging from carbon taxes to aviation policy. It also invites visiting scholars to campus for weeklong residencies. In addition to a certificate in energy management and policy, the Kleinman Center awards student grants for hands-on learning through research, travel, and internships, including the exclusive opportunity to work as a summer fellow at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

“Working as a Kleinman-Birol fellow at the IEA was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Peter Sopher (WG'19). “The fellowship gave me valuable international experience at one of the world’s leading energy institutions, and also allowed me to conduct research and publish on a topic of my choice.”

The Center also hosts public lectures and panels with leading experts from academia and industry. Its signature event is the annual Carnot Prize, which recognizes a distinguished leader in energy policy. The Center has awarded four Carnot Prizes to leaders including Gina McCarthy, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and Piyush Goyal, India's Minister of Coal and Railways.

“Penn's founder, Ben Franklin, discovered electricity, invented the lightning rod, and organized fire insurance, thereby integrating impact across science, technology, and policy,” said Mark Alan Hughes (PhD’86), founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center. “We like to say that the Center 'owns' Ben like no one else at Penn. He was the original energy scholar.  This spectacular new gift will enable the Kleinman Center to carry forward that legacy of innovative excellence.”

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, part of the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design, was established in 2014 with a generous gift from Scott (C'94, W'94) and Wendy Kleinman. The Center’s mission is to create the conditions for policy innovation that support a just and efficient transition to sustainable energy.