Tom and Cathy Ryan make record gift of $35 million to University of Rhode Island for neuroscience, scholars program, and athletics

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Tom and Cathy Ryan
Tom and Cathy Ryan

KINGSTON, R.I. September 16, 2019 — Thomas M. Ryan ’75 Hon. ’99, former chairman, president and CEO of CVS, and his wife, Cathy Ryan, have made a gift of $35 million to the University of Rhode Island, the largest private contribution in its history. This builds on the Ryans’ notable philanthropic history with URI and brings their cumulative giving total to more than $56 million.

The vast majority of the gift will provide transformational funding for academic purposes, including an expansion of research and teaching capacity in neuroscience and the creation of a scholars program to attract high-performing students.

“Tom and Cathy Ryan have been outstanding leaders and dedicated advocates for the University of Rhode Island,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “This extraordinary gift demonstrates their commitment to all aspects of the URI experience, including the mission of academic excellence within our student body, the vital research taking place in the Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, and the community spirit that comes from excellence in athletics.”

The gift includes $24 million for the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, $10 million to establish the Thomas M. Ryan Scholars, and a $1 million challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

“Cathy and I are pleased (and fortunate) to be able to give this gift to the University of Rhode Island,” said Ryan. “Our hope is these monies will allow URI to maintain its trajectory as a top-flight university for teaching and learning while continuing to grow its dynamic research capabilities, especially in the area of neuroscience.”

Funds for the Ryan Institute, a blend of endowment and operating resources, will further cutting-edge neuroscience research through expanded laboratory facilities. This will continue the rapid growth of the Ryan Institute, established by the Ryans in 2013 with a $15 million commitment, the largest private gift to URI at that time.

“This new gift will propel interdisciplinary research and outreach efforts aimed at improving the treatment of disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS,” said Provost Donald H. DeHayes. “It will explore new treatments, therapies and strategies for addressing heart-wrenching neurodegenerative diseases and also enhance our national and international prominence in the field.”

The Ryan Scholars program will provide a full scholarship and fees for four years for selected students while also offering access to the University’s Honors Colloquium, Leadership Institute, and Global Winter J-Term. Candidates will meet specific criteria and participate in campus visits and interviews. The first Ryan Scholars will be enrolled fall 2020.

“This is a game changer for the University as it will allow us to attract exceptional students to our campus community,” said Dean Libutti, vice provost for enrollment management. “This is more than just a full scholarship, recipients will also benefit from advanced opportunities for research, global travel, community projects, leadership and mentorship that they would not find elsewhere.”

In addition to the initiatives above, the Ryans are issuing a $1 million challenge to inspire community support for a new basketball training facility. The upgrade will benefit the men’s and women’s teams and make URI a competitive destination for recruits.

Thomas M. Ryan is chairman of the board for University of Rhode Island Foundation and Alumni Engagement. The Ryans have generously contributed over the years to the College of Pharmacy, URI Athletics, and the Ryan Center, the University’s premier athletics and entertainment venue, among other areas.

This landmark gift comes at a time of increased support for the University of Rhode Island. Philanthropic giving has contributed significantly to $400 million in recent capital projects, record enrollment numbers, and the hiring of 47 percent of the full-time faculty in the last eight years.