Real estate developer and alumnus Stephen M. Ross has donated an additional $50 million to the University of Michigan, bringing his total lifetime giving to $378 million.
The majority of the new gift will support career-development programs for students, innovative action-based learning experiences such as student-run investment funds and new business ventures, and resources for attracting and developing junior faculty.
Ross continues to be the single largest donor to the university. He also chairs U-M’s Victors for Michigan campaign, which kicked off in fall 2013. The campaign has raised more than $4 billion to date and, with this Ross gift, has surpassed its aggressive $1 billion goal for student support.
His previous donations have not only helped the business school become one of the best in the world, but his support has physically transformed the landscape of the university — adding the signature terra cotta look of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business campus, designed to foster collaboration and action-based learning in business education, as well as the sturdy brick of the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus buildings, a home for all U-M student-athletes, set for completion in 2018.
“It gives me enormous joy to continue to give back to the University of Michigan, an institution that had such a profound impact on my life,” Ross said. “I am extremely proud of the physical transformation we have achieved at the business school, creating modern, new facilities and places students and facility and future leaders can thrive.
“It has become a world-class center of innovation and a magnet for attracting the best and the brightest students and faculty, and these new initiatives will even further enhance those efforts.”
Ross is a philanthropist and chairman and founder of Related Companies, one of the world’s most prominent private real estate developers. Related Companies is best known for the development of Time Warner Center in New York City and the 28-acre Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side, and is also one of the largest owners of affordable housing nationally. Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins.
“Stephen M. Ross continues to make a tremendous impact on the University of Michigan. His generosity and outstanding leadership have transformed the learning environment for our students,” said President Mark Schlissel.
“With this latest gift, he further advances our mission, pushing us past our ambitious goal of $1 billion for student support in the Victors for Michigan campaign. I am especially grateful to Steve for, once again, demonstrating his confidence in the University of Michigan and ensuring a bright future for our students and faculty.”
The new gift creates:
• A $16 million Student Success initiative that will help students develop career and professional skills, build a robust network of advisers and career advocates, personalize their learning journey, and access internships and career opportunities with leading companies around the globe. The Student Success initiative will help realize the vision of the Ross School as the most powerful career accelerator and best source of leadership talent in business education.
• A $16 million Stephen M. Ross Faculty Support Fund for faculty who develop academic innovations that advance the school’s commitment to action-based learning, interdisciplinary education and leadership development. The fund also will support expanded mentoring and coaching for junior faculty, prestigious junior faculty professorships and additional research support, all of which will help the Ross School attract and retain rising stars in business education.
• An $8 million Stephen M. Ross Student Investment Fund for academic programs and learning experiences in asset and investment management, including venture capital, private equity, commercial real estate and publicly traded securities. The fund will enable the Ross School to continue developing the world’s most innovative portfolio of student-run investment funds and build academic programs that accelerate student learning and career placement.
The rest, $10 million, goes toward completing and maintaining the Ross School campus.
“Now that we have a state-of-the-art, inspiring space for faculty, staff and students, our focus is on attracting great talent and creating the most action-based, transformative student experiences in business education,” said Ross School Dean Scott DeRue. “To help us realize our vision, Stephen Ross is once again directing his generosity to our school.
“Steve’s dedication and his unwavering commitment to excellence have greatly enhanced the reputation of our business school globally, and we are excited for the future of Michigan Ross.”
In previous donations to U-M, Ross gave $200 million in 2013: $100 million for the Ross athletic campus for use by 900-plus student athletes in all sports, and $100 million to further develop a state-of-the-art collaborative learning environment on the Ross School campus.
In 2004, Ross gave $100 million to radically update the facilities and endow operations for the business school, which was renamed the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. The first building was completed in 2009.
In 2003, Ross gave a $5 million lead gift to create the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center, which provides academic support services and study space on the athletic campus. Additional past gifts include funding for the football stadium expansion project, scholarship support for student athletes, and the Henry Pearce Endowed Scholarship in LSA.
Ross earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree 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.
Ross serves on the executive committee and is a trustee of Lincoln Center, as well as a trustee of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He is also a director of the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the World Resources Institute, and established the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, an innovative new initiative to integrate urban planning, sustainable transport, energy and climate change, water resources and governance.
In 2013, Ross committed to give at least half 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.
In July, he was honored at the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards for his philanthropic efforts including the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a nonprofit organization he created, dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.