CARLISLE, Pa. — Philanthropist and business executive Drew Katz, son of the late Lewis Katz, urged graduates of the Dickinson School of Law’s 137th class to “be that one person to make their community, their nation, their world a better place” during his commencement address May 14 in Carlisle.
“So just how do you get to be that one man or one woman? Well, you’re off to a great start,” Katz told the students. “You have worked hard to get a great education and now, for the third time in a decade or less for most of you, are being honored for your achievement by being given a piece of paper — a diploma — marking that achievement.”
Katz continued, “If I had just one piece of advice to give you as you move from the world of classrooms and education to the world of offices and work, it would be to find a mentor. Find someone who will continue to guide you and teach you. Mentors can help you in so many ways, and quite honestly, you honor them and pay respect to their wisdom and experience by asking them to show you the ropes, and teach you the tricks of the trade.”
Katz shared that while he had many mentors in his life to guide him, his greatest mentors were his late parents, Lewis and Marjorie Katz. “My mom modeled for me a sensitivity to our fellow man, woman, and child like no one ever had before or candidly since. She was all heart. All love. My dad was spectacular in so many ways: brilliant, engaging, two steps ahead of everyone else in a negotiation, and a big-picture thinker. I can only hope I have inherited or have learned even just a small portion of these qualities. His love and mentorship challenged me to figure out how to make a difference in the lives of others, and to both do well and good simultaneously.”
In 2007, Drew’s father, who graduated first in the Class of 1966, committed to gifting $15 million — the single largest gift in the law school’s history—to the Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University. In recognition of his gift and his extraordinary volunteer efforts on behalf of the Dickinson School of Law, Penn State named the signature addition to the law school’s Carlisle facilities Lewis Katz Hall, and the law school building at University Park the Lewis Katz Building.
In fulfillment of his father’s commitment to the Law School, Katz presented Penn State President Eric Barron and Dickinson Law Interim Dean Gary Gildin with a check for $10 million to benefit Dickinson Law in Carlisle.
“It was especially gratifying to have Drew as our commencement speaker during his late father’s 50-year celebration of the Class of 1966,” said Gildin. “A generous philanthropist like his father, Drew embodies our commitment to service and has been selfless in his charitable work for many years. His gift will continue to have a lasting and positive impact on the lives of Dickinson Law students today and in the years to come.”
Katz graduated from George Washington University in 1993 and received his juris doctor with distinction from Stanford Law School in 1996. While in law school, he worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, New Jersey, and for the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
In 2003, Katz created what is now known as The Rachel & Drew Katz Foundation (formerly known as Infinite Possibilities Foundation) — a vehicle that Katz uses to help lift the hopes and aspirations of those facing difficult life and health challenges, with a particular emphasis on children. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $2.5 million to over 225 charitable nonprofit organizations throughout the world. Beneficiaries of Katz’s philanthropy have included Covenant House International, Wilson Disease Association, Grand Street Settlement, Diabetes Research Foundation, Stanford Law School, and Tibet House.
Katz is currently a board member of the National Constitution Center, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, the Wilson’s Disease Association, and the board of trustees for Temple University. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at Stanford Law School. He is a former board member for Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts Inc. and Covenant House International.
Since 2000, Katz has co-chaired the annual Garry Maddox — Drew Katz Celebrity Bowling Classic, which has raised more than $3 million for Compete 360 and The Rachel & Drew Katz Foundation. In Newark, New Jersey, in 2011, Katz was a co-convener of a three-day global peace summit that was hosted by then-Mayor Cory Booker (now United States senator) and featured the Dalai Lama, other Nobel laureates and more than 100 speakers. He has personally donated his time as a mentor to New York City youth for seven years through the Grand Street Settlement House’s J.U.M.P. program.
View the Class of 2016 commencement photo album.