by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
After Teddy Greenstein first reported it last night, Northwestern announced that the university has raised $55 million of the $220 million necessary for the athletics facilities facelift that was announced earlier this year. The lead gift came from Pat and Shirley Ryan and the facility will be named Ryan Fieldhouse.
Ryan, the former president of the Aon Corporation, has been one of Northwestern's biggest boosters and has his name on pretty much everything — Ryan Field, Welsh-Ryan Arena, Ryan Auditorium and the Ryan Scholarship, among other things. He will add his mark to the most impressive facility on campus and one of the most pristine athletic facilities in the Big Ten. A second lead gift came from Stephen and Susan Wilson, for whom Wilson Field inside the facility will be named. Other major gifts came from Chap and Ethel Hutcheson and Bob and Elizabeth Unger.
Northwestern still has a lot of fundraising to go before it can break ground on the new facility — there is no start or completion date set yet — but the $55 million raised so far is a good start. NU President Morton Shapiro will officially announce the gifts at the Gator Bowl pep rally, which will be held at 5 p.m. at the Jacksonville Landing on Monday, Jan. 31.
Here are some quotes from NU's release:
Morton Shapiro: "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.”
Pat Ryan: “Our teams’ and coaches’ passion and commitment to excellence is apparent to all. 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.”
Pat Fitzgerald: “To compete at the highest level requires a major investment -- to equip our current student-athletes for success and to attract top talent. Our number one selling point, outside of the best education in BCS football and the opportunity to play in the Big Ten, has always been our campus. Now to have a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week, 365-day a year, world-class facility in a location that no one else can match raises the bar for expectations of this program.”
Jim Phillips: “Our responsibility is to provide our student-athletes with a world-class experience academically, socially and athletically, and these facilities will provide a state-of-the-art venue to work, train and compete. This is a transformational project for our University community.”