Canisius Receives $1 Million Gift From John and Valerie Rowe

March 15, 2022

Canisius University President John J. Hurley announced today that the college received a $1 million gift from long-time benefactors John W. Rowe ’66, HON ’02, MD and Valerie A. Rowe, PhD.  John Rowe is the Julius B. Richmond Professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Valerie Rowe is a retired associate professor at Fordham University’s School of Education.  The gift will be used to support the development of Science Hall.

The $17.6 million Science Hall project includes development of 60,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory and office space on the second floor to house biology, animal behavior, ecology and conservation (ABEC) and anthrozoology.

The Rowes designated a $2 million gift to the college’s A Legacy of Leadership campaign in 2007 toward the creation of the interdisciplinary science center on campus.  

“Jack and Valerie supported the Science Hall project at its inception, and are now providing a lead gift for this critically important phase of the project,” said Hurley.  “As a graduate of the college’s science program, Jack understands the importance of this investment for Canisius.  We are deeply grateful for the Rowes’ generosity and commitment to Canisius.”  

John Rowe is recognized internationally for his distinguished careers in science, medicine and business.  Chair and CEO of Aetna from 2000 – 2006, he is widely credited with leading Aetna through a remarkable turnaround that made the company a national leader in healthcare benefits and management.  Under Rowe, Aetna’s market value increased by more than $23 billion.  He joined Columbia University in 2006. 

Before joining Aetna, Rowe served as president and chief executive officer of Mount Sinai NYU Health, a position he assumed after he conceived and executed the merger of Mount Sinai and NYU Medical Center, one of the largest hospital system merges in history.  Under Rowe’s leadership, the Mount Sinai NYU Health System grew to become the largest integrated healthcare system in the region.  He was professor of medicine and founding director of the Division on Aging at Harvard Medical School and chief of gerontology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston before joining Mount Sinai in 1988. 

Author of more than 200 medical journal articles, reviews and abstracts, primarily on the physiology of the aging process, Rowe co-authored the book, Successful Aging in 1998.  He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He serves on the Board of Advisors at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, as director of the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on an Aging Society and board secretary for the Lincoln Center Theatre.  In 2019, Rowe was honored at the Arthur W. Page Center Awards (Penn State) and received a Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication. 

At Canisius, Rowe is a member of the college’s DiGamma Honor Society and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1989.  Rowe addressed the Class of 2002 during undergraduate commencement exercises and was awarded an honorary degree.

He earned a BA in biology from Canisius University in 1966 and a MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1970.  
Valerie Rowe earned her doctorate at Fordham University and was a clinical associate professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) in the Division of Curriculum and Teaching from 1999 to 2009.  Rowe has continued to support GSE and education in New York City.  She enjoyed a four-decade career as an educator that began near Rochester, NY, in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District, and finished at Fordham’s GSE. 

Over the last decade, Canisius has invested more than $47 million in the purchase and development of Science Hall, the largest capital undertaking in the college’s history.  More than half of the building’s renovations have been completed, including the lower and first levels, as well as a portion of the third level. The building opened to students in 2012 with classrooms and laboratories, as well as a large commons area used by students and the neighborhood community.

Science Hall currently houses the departments of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics, as well as the George E. Schreiner '43, MD Pre-Medical Center, the Institute for Autism Research and most recently, the college’s new Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program. The third level of Science Hall is home to the Catholic Health System.