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University Communications

September 30, 2010

La Salle Presents Honorary Degree to
Philadelphia Zoo President and CEO Vikram Dewan

Vikram Dewan

La Salle University’s President Michael J. McGinniss, F.S.C., presented an honorary doctoral degree to Philadelphia Zoo President and Chief Executive Officer Vikram Dewan at its Honors Convocation on Sunday, October 2, 2010.

When presenting Dewan with his honorary degree, McGinniss said, “Under your leadership, the Philadelphia Zoo—with its 1,300 animals, many of them rare and endangered, and its record 1.3 million visitors last year—continues its tradition of significance to our region. We at La Salle, as a values-centered educational institution, especially recognize your commitment to educational programming, including outreach to school districts and curricular activities for educators, your mission of conservation, and your desire to touch a greater diversity of our community.”

Since taking the helm as the Zoo’s top executive in 2006, Dewan has overseen the premiere of Big Cat Falls, featuring 14 lions, tigers, pumas, leopards, and a black jaguar which was named the 2007 “Best Exhibit of the Year” by the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In 2009, as part of its 150th Anniversary, the Zoo opened the McNeil Avian Center, home to many unique and exotic birds.

Under Dewan’s leadership, the Philadelphia Zoo has engaged in creative partnerships to spread the message of wildlife conservation, hosting events like the GEICO gecko exhibit, and the current exhibit, LEGO Creatures of Habitat, featuring life-size LEGO sculptures of endangered or threatened species—the first and only of its kind.

Recently, all La Salle freshman business students visited the Zoo and had the opportunity to meet with members of the Zoo’s leadership team. Additionally, numerous La Salle students have completed internships with the Zoo, providing students with real-life business experiences with the country’s first zoo.

“It has been such a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn more about the Philadelphia Zoo under Mr. Dewan’s leadership,” said Jan Ambrose, Ph.D., Chair of La Salle’s Finance Department and sponsor for Dewan’s honorary degree. “His successful leadership and dedication to wildlife conservation is inspiring to our students.”

A longtime resident of the Delaware Valley, Dewan previously served as President of Wachovia Bank’s Philadelphia and Delaware region, operating nearly 100 branches and more than 1,000 employees. During his tenure, he also served on Wachovia’s Regional Diversity Council.

Active in the local community, Dewan is a member of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Panel. Previously, he served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Brandywine Ballet, Philadelphia’s Children First Fund, the Philadelphia Education Fund, the Mayor’s Commission on Children, and the International House.

Dewan earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Jami, live in West Chester, where he is active in youth soccer.