Alum giving $200 million to University of Michigan

Stephen Ross' donation will go toward business school, athletic campus

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Real estate developer and alumnus Stephen M. Ross is giving $200 million to the University of Michigan's business school and athletic campus.

Ross' gift is the largest single donation in UM history and makes him the biggest donor to his alma mater with lifetime giving of more than $313 million.

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business and UM Athletics will each receive $100 million.

With this gift, Ross becomes the third-largest donor to a business school in the United States.

During a Wednesday morning press conference at the University of Michigan Ross said, "Why Michigan? It has had a tremendous impact on my life. I don't think you can really put it into words. You want to give back to those places and people who've really had an impact and helped me get to the place that I am today. I never thought I'd be in this situation."

Ross is chairman and founder of Related Companies, one of the most prominent real estate developers in the world. Related Companies is best known for the development of Time Warner Center in New York and the 26-acre Hudson Yards development currently underway on Manhattan's west side. Ross is also the owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Ross said, "As Tom Brady said last week, when talking about his career, said what an impact Michigan has had on his life and his career - his success and it is something that you live with. I believe in giving back and not forgetting."

In keeping with Ross' professional and philanthropic vision for business education and athletics at UM, projects will be designed to create contemporary spaces for the nearly 6,000 students who take courses at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the 900-plus student athletes in all sports.

In addition, scholarships will be available for Ross students.

Specific projects will be announced in the coming months.

Ross said sometimes he believes in being an anonymous giver but he could see by giving he might inspire others to give. "It is important in taking that leadership position and doing things that are thinking outside the box - doing things outside the box. I think when you see people doing things that you respect it how you build things within you - helping do what you want to do rather than being told what to do."

"Stephen Ross' vision has always been about the ability of facilities to transform the human experience," said UM President Mary Sue Coleman. "He understands the power of well-conceived spaces, and his generosity will benefit generations of Michigan students, faculty and coaches. "This historic gift is not only an investment in the University of Michigan, but also in our state. Steve Ross believes deeply in our collective future as national and global leaders."

Ross will also serve as the chair of the university's Victors for Michigan Campaign that will kick off on Nov. 8.

Statement from Ross:

"The University of Michigan had a profound impact on my life and I have received enormous satisfaction from being able to give back to the institution that played such a critical role in my success. I am thrilled to be able to make such an impactful contribution and to not only help write the next chapter for the university, but also offer much-needed scholarships to ensure we continue to attract the best and the brightest students and provide them with the financial resources they need. I am confident that the initiatives we undertake will further transform the business school and athletic facilities and ensure the University Michigan continues to offer a world-class institution for our future leaders. I could not be more proud."

The Ross School of Business proposes to create:

  • New spaces for students to study, collaborate and connect with each other, faculty and potential employers.
  • A state-of-the-art career services space including an enhanced recruiting center to connect students with the best companies and careers.
  • New spaces to support an "admission to alumni" approach to student and career services with dynamic events and opportunities on campus and beyond.
  • A space to bring together faculty, students and corporate partners to create practice-oriented research on topics of key importance to local and global firms.
  • Classrooms infused with advanced technology and innovative design to support in-person and virtual collaboration and connectivity on a global scale.
  • The new and existing facilities will be seamlessly integrated both inside and out to create one campus.
  • Scholarships for Ross students.

In previous donations to U-M Athletics, Ross gave a $5 million lead gift to create the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center, which provides study space on the athletic campus. Additional past gifts include $5 million for the stadium expansion project and $50,000 to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts for the Henry Pearce Endowed Scholarship, and scholarship support for student athletes.

"Stephen Ross shares our vision for an Athletic Campus that provides every student-athlete access to world-class facilities to successfully train and compete at the highest level athletically and academically," said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "Steve made his first gift to athletics to help build our Ross Academic Center and is now making a commitment to Michigan Athletics that will impact over 900 student-athletes across all 31 of our teams. We are excited and grateful for Steve's generous support, and we look forward to appropriately recognizing Steve and celebrating this historic gift."

Michigan Athletics proposes to improve its Athletic campus to:

  • Provide student-athletes on all 31 teams with the necessary resources to be academically and athletically successful.
  • Develop state-of-the-art facilities that create a sense of community, identity and tradition for all of our teams.
  • Create additional spaces that help student-athletes develop skills for success after athletics.
  • Build facilities that are a destination for local, state, national and international competitions.

The campus will be named the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus in recognition for this transformative gift, pending approval by the U-M Board of Regents.

Ross earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from the U-M Business School in 1962, a law degree from Wayne State University and a master of law degree in taxation from New York University. He began his career as a tax attorney at Coopers & Lybrand in Detroit. He serves on the executive committee and is a trustee of Lincoln Center, is a trustee of New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Guggenheim Foundation and a director of the World Resources Institute and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Earlier this year, Ross committed to give half or more of his wealth to charity and signed the Giving Pledge, a long-term, global initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that aims to inspire deeper engagement in philanthropy and increase charitable giving globally.

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