Northwestern University has received a $480 million donation, the largest single gift in its history, from the Patrick and Shirley Ryan family. The university says it will use the money, which it called the capstone of its $6 billion “We Will” fundraising campaign, to support research and education and redevelop its football stadium, Ryan Field.

In a Sept. 22 news release, the university said the project will create “an enhanced gameday experience for students, alumni, fans and the surrounding community” and said some of its goals are to improve accessibility and focus on environmental sustainability.

Ryan Field, originally named Dyche Stadium, was constructed in 1926. (Northwestern University photo) Credit: Northwestern University

“The multi-year construction process will provide an economic boost for the City of Evanston through job creation and increased revenue,” the university said in the release. “Northwestern is committed to transparency and collaboration with Evanston neighbors throughout the construction process.”

Northwestern’s football venue, originally named Dyche Stadium, was constructed in 1926 and expanded in 1949 and 1952. After a 1997 renovation, funded largely by a gift from the Ryan family, it was renamed Ryan Field.

Northwestern did not elaborate on its vision for the stadium. “The University will conduct listening sessions with community members before releasing design concepts and more specific plans,” the news release said. The university did not specify how much of the Ryans’ gift would go toward the football stadium, but noted that “additional philanthropic gifts will be raised to complete the project.”

The Ryan family donation also will be used to fund areas of the Feinberg School of Medicine, endow a Center for Applied Microeconomics and support the Kellogg School of Management. Patrick Ryan, who was chairman of the university’s board of trustees for 14 years, received his undergraduate degree in business in 1959 from what was then called the School of Business, which is now the Kellogg School of Management.