Northwestern University has received what it terms an “unprecedented series of gifts – more than $55 million – in support of a campaign for athletics and recreation.”

In honor of the lead gift from Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan, the University will name the fieldhouse in the new multi-use athletics and recreational complex the Ryan Fieldhouse. Mr. Ryan is a 1959 Northwestern graduate, and Mrs. Ryan, a 1961 graduate.

The new facility will be located next to the shore of Lake Michigan at the north end of campus.

“Our teams’ and coaches’ passion and commitment to excellence is apparent to all,” Patrick Ryan said. “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.”

Additionally, the field located inside the Fieldhouse will be named Wilson Field in honor of a significant gift from Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson. Mr. Wilson received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 1970 and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 1974. Mrs. Wilson is a 1970 graduate of Northwestern.

Because of the rapid response and generosity of donors, a design competition for the facilities is already underway and will conclude in the summer of 2013.

“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,” President Schapiro said.

“The gifts recognize that athletics play a pivotal role in the life of the University, and the benefits of these facilities will extend to the entire Northwestern community,” he said.

“It is an honor to support this terrific investment in our alma mater,” Steve Wilson said. “Our student-athletes deserve athletics facilities that mirror their commitment to excellence, and, best of all, the new athletics complex will benefit all students. … This complex exemplifies the University’s commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as on the field.”

Additional major gifts were made by Edward “Chap” Hutcheson, Jr. and Ethel E. Hutcheson and Robert A. “Bob” Unger and Elizabeth Unger.

With spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the complex will include a large, indoor multi-purpose facility; a 1,200-space parking structure that will contain fitness studios, weight rooms and other areas for exercise and recreation on the first floor.; enhancements to the soccer/lacrosse and field hockey practice and competition venues; renovation and additions to the Norris Aquatics Center and Henry Crown Sports Pavilion such as new training venues for Northwestern’s varsity sports, a new diving well, new locker rooms, sports medicine facilities, meeting rooms, a new weight room and office.

Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald said, “To compete at the highest level requires a major investment — to equip our current student-athletes for success and to attract top talent,” Fitzgerald said. “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.”