Gifts Supporting Northwestern Athletics Surpass $55 Million
Big boost provided for new transformational, year-round athletics and recreation complex
EVANSTON, Ill. --- On New Year’s Eve at the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl Pep Rally, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro will formally announce an unprecedented series of gifts — more than $55 million — in support of a campaign for athletics and recreation.
In honor of the lead gift from Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan, the University will name the fieldhouse in the new multi-use athletics and recreational complex the Ryan Fieldhouse. The new facility will be located next to the shore of Lake Michigan at the north end of Northwestern’s Evanston campus.
“Our teams’ and coaches’ passion and commitment to excellence is apparent to all,” Patrick Ryan said. “Shirley and I are excited to enable such excellence with state-of-the-art facilities that will play a crucial role in both recruiting and training Northwestern’s student-athletes and bring together the campus community for recreational activities.”
Additionally, the field located inside the Fieldhouse will be named Wilson Field in honor of a significant gift from Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson.
Plans for the new and renovated sports facilities were revealed only three months ago. Due to the rapid response and exceptional generosity of donors, a design competition for the facilities is already underway and will conclude in the summer of 2013. The winning design will be selected from the submissions by a group of architectural firms with substantial accomplishments in designing collegiate sports and recreational facilities.
“This bold investment in a multi-purpose complex for athletics and recreation on the lakefront will help foster the kind of vibrant, tight-knit community outlined in the University’s strategic plan,” President Schapiro said.
“The gifts recognize that athletics play a pivotal role in the life of the University, and the benefits of these facilities will extend to the entire Northwestern community,” he said.
The series of gifts includes a leadership gift from Patrick G. Ryan and Shirley W. Ryan. The indoor multi-purpose fieldhouse that will be central to the athletics complex will be named after Pat Ryan, a 1959 Northwestern graduate, and Shirley Ryan, a 1961 Northwestern graduate.
The Ryans have been extraordinary donors to Northwestern for many years, providing leadership and support for academic programs, scholarships, the construction of Northwestern’s Nanotechnology Center, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, and renovation of Northwestern’s football and basketball stadiums. A recent major gift from the Ryans created scholarships for low-income students to attend Northwestern without taking out any student loans, which has enabled Northwestern to attract high-achieving low-income students with exceptional leadership potential. That gift also supported graduate fellowships and facilities on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses, as well as providing athletic scholarships for undergraduate students.
Pat Ryan is distinguished as one of Chicago’s most successful entrepreneurs and prominent civic leaders. He founded and served for 41 years as CEO of Aon Corporation, the leading global provider of risk management, insurance, and reinsurance brokerage. At the time of his retirement, Aon had $8 billion in annual revenue with more than 500 offices in 120 countries. He also founded Ryan Specialty Group where he currently serves as CEO.
A member and immediate past chairman of Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees, Pat Ryan is a member of the International Insurance Hall of Fame. In 2008, Mr. Ryan was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies, reflecting his many contributions to higher education. Mr. Ryan led Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.
Shirley Welsh Ryan is Chairman of Pathways.org and serves on the Executive Committee or on the Board of Directors of: the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Alain Locke Charter Academy. Mrs. Ryan has been appointed by two U.S. presidents to the President’s National Council on Disability and has served as chairman of the Chicago Community Trust. She founded and directs Northwestern University’s invitational graduate level Learning for Life series and has been a charter member of Northwestern's Women's Board since 1978.
An additional significant lead gift was received from Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson. Wilson Field, which will be located inside Ryan Fieldhouse, will be named after the Wilsons. Steve Wilson received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 1970 and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 1974. Sue Wilson is a 1970 graduate of Northwestern.
The chairman and CEO of CF Industries Holdings, Inc., Steve Wilson has led the transformation of the company from an agricultural cooperative into a global leader in fertilizer manufacturing and distribution. CF Industries, based in Deerfield, Ill., is the second-largest nitrogen fertilizer producer in the world and the third-largest phosphate fertilizer producer among public companies. Much of his career success, he says, stems from his education at Kellogg, where he obtained a grounding in finance within a team-oriented environment. Sue Wilson had an eight-year public relations career in Chicago from which she retired to focus on raising their two children. She served as a volunteer at the Evanston Public Library North Branch for many years.
“It is an honor to support this terrific investment in our alma mater,” Steve Wilson said. “Our student-athletes deserve athletics facilities that mirror their commitment to excellence, and, best of all, the new athletics complex will benefit all students. We believe it is important to integrate student-athletes fully into the student body on campus. This complex exemplifies the University’s commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as on the field.”