Rather than blast off into space, buy an island, or rent Trevor Noah’s pad, an Illinois couple is using the extra half billion dollars they have lying around to help fund coach Pat Fitzgerald and the boys at Northwestern. Pat and Shirley Ryan, both Northwestern graduates, donated $480 million to the university — the largest single donation in the history of the institution.
Northwestern has received the largest gift in the University’s history— $480 million 💰
Funds from the Patrick & Shirley Ryan Family will drive biomedical, economics & business research.
The donation will be used to redevelop Ryan Field and construct a "best-in-class venue." pic.twitter.com/e3FpXccXcx
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 22, 2021
Pat and Shirley Ryan’s donation will help fund a number of programs dedicated to health, medicine, business and more. A portion of the donation will also be used to renovate Ryan Field, where Northwestern plays its football games.
“The Ryan Family’s new gift will have a profound and lasting impact on faculty and student opportunities, including research and discovery,” said Northwestern president Morty Schapiro in a statement released by the school. “Additionally, our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the community will benefit from their support of Northwestern Athletics and Recreation for many years to come.”
Northwestern’s football field is 95 years old and last underwent major renovations in 1997, when the Ryan’s donated around $10 million towards the project. Football is a major part of the Ryan household. In partnership with Andy McKenna, the Ryans own roughly 20 percent of the Chicago Bears.
“Shirley and I believe in the power of sports to develop the whole person — mind, body and soul for all students. This holistic approach prepares Northwestern student-athletes to be the leaders of tomorrow. And as long-time fans of all Wildcat teams, we have seen firsthand how powerful Northwestern Athletics can be in building community,” Pat Ryan said.
Despite their sizable gift, Pat Ryan is unlikely to seek a part-time job to replenish the couple’s bank account. Forbes estimates their wealth at $7.2 billion.