Wharton School to provide full tuition MBA fellowship for Israeli students

$10 million donation over 10 years at Pennsylvania business school comes from alumnus Yuri Milner, a tech investor who has also funded research into extraterrestrial life

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Yuri Milner, giving the commencement speech for Wharton MBA students of class 2017. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
Yuri Milner, giving the commencement speech for Wharton MBA students of class 2017. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will be providing a full tuition MBA fellowship for Israeli students, after the university received a $10 million donation by alumnus Yuri Milner and his wife Julia to set up the program.

The Friends of Israel MBA Fund will provide full tuition over the course of the two-year Wharton MBA program for a cohort of over sixty students over the next decade, the university said in a statement. The fellowship is dedicated to Israeli students – including those who have completed Israeli military service, attended an Israeli undergraduate institution, or worked at an Israeli company. The funding will enable the school to support exceptional international students by offering them financial aid packages, the statement said.

“Israel has become a global center of innovation and Wharton has long helped train the top entrepreneurs and business leaders across the world. This is a perfect match,” said Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, in the statement. “As a Wharton alumnus, I’m delighted that other Israelis will benefit from this unique experience.”

Yuri Milner is an Israeli science and technology investor and philanthropist. He attended Wharton in the 1990s and went on to found DST Global, a technology investor.

Yuri and his wife Julia partnered with Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, and Anne Wojcicki to launch the Breakthrough Prizes scientific awards, honoring achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics.

In July 2015, together with Stephen Hawking, Yuri Milner set up the $100 million Breakthrough Listen initiative to reinvigorate the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe, and in April 2016 they launched Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program seeking to develop technology for interstellar travel.

“As a former international student, myself, I know the transformative impact that an education in America and at Wharton can have,” said Milner in the statement. “Israel, too, has been an important home for me and my family, and our bond with the country remains strong. My hope is that this scholarship will support talented individuals to look beyond the horizon and pursue their vision of what the world can be, and that the state of Israel will benefit from the expertise in business and entrepreneurship that Wharton program graduates will bring back home.”

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