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Thursday, July 03, 2014

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Alumnus, emeritus trustee and benefactor Laurance S. Rockefeller dies

Laurance S. Rockefeller, a Princeton alumnus and emeritus trustee whose renowned philanthropic efforts included generous support of the University, died Sunday, July 11, of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 94.

Rockefeller, a member of the class of 1932, served as a charter trustee of the University from 1967 to 1980. Famed for his philanthropic support of the environment and medical research, among many causes, he made numerous gifts to Princeton across the wide array of his social, scientific and intellectual interests -- ranging from establishing the University Center for Human Values to launching Princeton's Department of Molecular Biology.

"Laurance Rockefeller's extraordinary devotion to Princeton has touched virtually every aspect of University life, enabling our faculty and students to explore new realms of knowledge and enhancing the physical face of our campus," said President Shirley M. Tilghman. "His vision and guidance, and the values that underpin them, will be sorely missed by all Princetonians."

For his many contributions to society and for his vigorous leadership of the University as a trustee, Rockefeller was awarded an honorary degree by Princeton in 1987, and in 1991 he received Princeton's highest honor for undergraduate alumni, the Woodrow Wilson Award for exemplary service to the nation.

Rockefeller's support for scholarship at Princeton included generous funding for science and technology, ranging from the building of the Engineering Quadrangle in the early 1960s to the construction of the Lewis Thomas Laboratory for molecular biology some 25 years later. In 1990, Rockefeller established the University Center for Human Values, which supports teaching, research and discussion of ethics and human values throughout the curriculum and across disciplines.

He also provided substantial support for several departments, including philosophy (his own concentration as an undergraduate), religion and aerospace and mechanical engineering. Rockefeller endowed seven distinguished professorships and two preceptorships, as well as scholarships and fellowships that today enable some 40 undergraduate and graduate students to attend Princeton.

Rockefeller made many contributions to improve residential life at Princeton, including the establishment of John D. Rockefeller III College, honoring his brother, in 1981 and Laura Spelman Halls, honoring his grandmother, in 1969. Always interested in preserving the beauty of the Princeton campus, he also contributed to such projects as the renovations of McCosh Walk, Firestone Plaza and the Graduate College carillon.

Plans for a memorial service have not been finalized.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601

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