New Name for 250-Year-Old School

The December 2017 announcement of the latest gift from P. Roy Vagelos’54 and Diana Vagelos accompanied an announcement from Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger that the College of Physicians and Surgeons would be officially known as the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons—VP&S for short.

“There are no more fitting names to have affiliated with our medical school than those of Roy and Diana Vagelos, who have made such tremendous contributions to medicine, education, and science,” said President Bollinger. “The new name recognizes all Roy and Diana have done, and will do, to transform education, medical research, and patient care at Columbia. Generations of students and patients will benefit from the generosity of their spirit and the sweep of their vision.”

Dr. and Mrs. Vagelos have long had ties to Columbia. They met in New York City in 1951 while Roy Vagelos was at VP&S and Diana Touliatou, who grew up in Washington Heights, was studying economics at Barnard College. She attended the High School of Music & Art, colloquially known as “the Castle on the Hill,” in Harlem (the school in 1984 merged into LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts). The couple married in 1955 in a Greek Orthodox church in Washington Heights; both had parents who emigrated from Greece. Mrs. Vagelos currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Trustees at Barnard, where the school’s multi-use Diana Center building, completed in 2010, is named in honor of her leadership and support. Dr. and Mrs. Vagelos recently gave Barnard a gift to support creation of a teaching and learning center, which will help as Barnard becomes one of the first liberal arts colleges among its peers to institute a technology requirement. Their gift will fund the learning center’s computational science center, an endowed director position for this center, and an endowed chair in chemistry; they recently committed a matching gift of $10 million for scholarships.

Their giving to the University of Pennsylvania has supported undergraduate science education programs related to energy research, molecular life sciences, and life sciences and management and has funded a new chemistry lab. “We’ve even supported a project at my old high school in Rahway,” says Dr. Vagelos. “We are very dedicated to what we think is the most important thing: education.”