In Memoriam - Dr. D. Walter Cohen, z"l



It is with profound sadness that we note the passing of Dr. D. Walter Cohen, a Gratz alum who served on the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2009.  During a long career in dentistry and academia, Walter also served as Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Chancellor of the Drexel University College of Medicine, and President and Chancellor of the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Walter received the Legion of Merit from the Government of France, and eight honorary degrees including an honorary Doctorate in Hebrew Letters from Gratz College in 2009.  He also received honorary degrees from universities in the United States, Israel, Greece, France, and Romania.

Walter studied Hebrew at Gratz as a teenager.  I met him shortly after I became President of Gratz and he reminisced about being in Hebrew classes with his cousin, Dan Cohen who is now on the Gratz Board of Governors.  After school he and Dan would be driven home by the College Dean, Professor William Chomsky. The Reading Room in the Gratz College library is dedicated to William and Elsie Chomsky.

Walter was a beloved member of the Philadelphia community. In addition to his service to Gratz, he was president of the National Museum of American Jewish History and served on the boards of the Jewish Publication Society, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the National Disease Research Interchange. He was the author of more than 20 books and more than 100 scholarly articles. He is survived by many family members, a legion of former students, and thousands of people who learned from him and benefitted from his philanthropy and wisdom. 

Gratz will miss this long-time alum and friend of the College.  May his memory continue to be a blessing for all who knew him. 

Paul Finkelman

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