Real estate developer and alumnus Stephen M. Ross will give $200 million to the University of Michigan to “significantly transform the student experience” at the business school and athletic campus.
Ross’ gift is the largest single donation in U-M 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 U-M Athletics will each receive $100 million.
With this gift, Ross becomes the third largest donor to a business school in the United States. 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.
In keeping with Ross’ professional and philanthropic vision for business education and athletics at U-M, projects will be designed to create contemporary spaces for the nearly 6,000 students who take courses at the U-M 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.
“Stephen Ross’ vision has always been about the ability of facilities to transform the human experience,” said U-M 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,” Coleman said.
Ross has agreed to serve as the chair of the university’s Victors for Michigan Campaign that will kick off on Nov. 8.
In 2004, Ross gave $100 million toward a new building and endowed operations for the business school, which was renamed in recognition of his gift. The building was completed in 2009.
“Stephen Ross provided us with the resources and vision to develop our signature Ross building. His most recent gift will allow us to build on that success and create a true business campus – one that features innovative design and advanced technology to empower students and faculty who share our mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world,” said Alison Davis-Blake, Edward J. Frey Dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Ross said: “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.”
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.
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.
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.