Northwestern Alumni Couple Donates $480 Million

Northwestern University received a $480 million gift, a record for the Illinois school, from alumni Patrick and Shirley Ryan and their family.

The money will help bolster research in fields including applied microeconomics, business, digital medicine, neuroscience and global health, as well as redevelop the home of the its football facility, Ryan Field, the Evanston-based university announced Wednesday.

The gift “will have a profound and lasting impact on faculty and student opportunities, including research and discovery,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said in a statement.

Patrick Ryan, 84, founded the insurer Aon and was the firm’s long-time chairman and chief executive officer. In 2010, he founded Ryan Specialty Group, an international holding company specializing in wholesale brokerage, insurance underwriting managers and other specialty services.

Shirley Ryan, appointed by two U.S. presidents to the National Council on Disability, co-founded and chaired the Pathways Center, a pediatric multi-disciplinary clinic.