You are here: American University President Announcements September 6, 2018

American University
Washington, DC

Memorandum September 6, 2018

AU Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
AU Receives $5M Gift to Advance the Hall of Science

It is my pleasure to share that Board of Trustees member Gary Abramson, SPA/BA ’68, and his wife Pennie Abramson have made a significant philanthropic commitment to begin construction of the new Hall of Science. This generous $5 million gift will advance the sciences at AU and signals the beginning of a new era of momentum in philanthropy to reach AU’s ambitious goals.

We have reached a pivotal moment that requires investment in our people and facilities in order to propel AU’s achievements in the sciences to the next level. The Hall of Science will serve as a catalyst for discovery and a groundbreaking space for our community of award-winning scientists and students to address key issues such as climate change, cancer, obesity, and dementia. College of Arts and Sciences faculty have grown their research funding by 116 percent, securing 48 unique awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, over the past five years. This building will further critical work and collaborations with the world’s most influential scientific organizations and be home for our fastest-growing area of undergraduate study. Not only will it foster work in the sciences, its design will invite students and faculty from across the university to bring scientific thought, rigor, experience, and connections to their own pursuits.

The Abramsons shared, “We are proud to be a part of making the Hall of Science a reality. In an ever-changing world, science is essential to how society approaches its greatest opportunities and challenges. AU students and faculty deserve a space that matches their ambition and affords them every opportunity to advance scientific discovery.”

Gary is a current trustee and chairman emeritus of the AU Board of Trustees, having served on the board since 1986 as chair at some of the most pivotal moments in AU’s history. In addition to his personal leadership and commitment to AU, the Abramson family has played a critical role in the advancement of the university. Their vision and generosity have ensured our success at many pivotal moments over the last decades. The physical manifestation of their philanthropy is present across campus, notably in the Abramson Family Founders Room in the School of International Service, the Abramson Family Plaza at the School of Communication, and the Abramson Family Recital Hall in the Katzen Arts Center. These spaces are among the university’s most important gathering places, connecting people and ideas. To honor and recognize this inspiring commitment to the Hall of Science, and in the tradition of creating spaces to foster discovery through community, the Hall of Science auditorium will be named the Gary and Pennie Abramson Discovery Hall.

American University’s commitment to the sciences is enhancing the student experience, encouraging innovative problem solving, launching new academic programs, and promoting the shared exploration of the most challenging concerns of our time. We are grateful to Gary and Pennie Abramson for their vision and generosity.

To learn more about the Hall of Science and the breadth and depth of the Abramsons’ investment in AU, please visit