When it opened nearly a decade ago, the Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly was one of the first federally and privately funded facilities of its kind — a nearly 44,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art nanofabrication building where a collection of chemists and engineers search for small answers to big problems.
In 2006 Patrick G. Ryan (EB59, H09), then chair of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees, his wife, Shirley Welsh Ryan (WCAS61), and their family made a significant donation to Northwestern, part of which funded the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Family Fellowships for graduate students in nanotechnology. In honor of the Ryans’ gift, the Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly was named Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall. It is home to the Institute for Nanotechnology, an umbrella organization for the multimillion-dollar nanotechnology research efforts at Northwestern.
After graduating from Northwestern in 1959, Pat Ryan founded an insurance agency, which grew to become Aon Corp. He served as chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees for 14 years and has been a member of the board since 1978. He is a life trustee.
With the 2006 gift to the University, the Ryans created the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Family Scholarships, which provide low-income students with the opportunity to attend Northwestern without taking out any student loans.
The Ryan family gift also contributed to the Feinberg School of Medicine’s priorities during Campaign Northwestern, a centerpiece of which was the construction of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center on the Chicago campus, allowing additional labs and research space in the building to be finished and fully equipped. In recognition of this campaign contribution, the atrium of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center is named the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Atrium.
The 2006 gift also funded the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Family Athletic Scholarships. The Ryan family also provided the lead gifts for the renovation of Northwestern’s basketball court, Welsh-Ryan Arena, in the 1980s and the University’s football stadium, Ryan Field, in the 1990s.
Ryan Family Auditorium in the Technological Institute also honors the Ryan family’s contributions to Northwestern.
Stories by Stephanie Haines (WCAS15), Margaux Pepper (C14) and Danny Moran (J13).
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