A $75M Gift Will Endow Professorships at the University of Chicago

The commitment from Amy and Richard Wallman follows a $75 million donation to Booth School of Business in 2017.

Fifty years after Amy and Richard Wallman met at the University of Chicago while pursuing MBAs, the philanthropic couple have pledged $75 million to their alma mater. The commitment will take the form of a unique fundraising campaign that aims to raise $150 million to endow 30 new professorships at the school.

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Cobb Gate at the University of Chicago. Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The donation from the Wallmans, who both graduated from the University of Chicago in the 1970s, is the largest-ever financial contribution received by the school for faculty chairs. The $75 million will be given out in matching donations towards new commitments of $2.5 million or more from others participating in the challenge. Each endowed professorship will be named after donors, while the entire resulting cohort of professors will be known as the Wallman Society of Fellows.

The new endowed professorships will enhance faculty resources and help the University of Chicago compete for scholars in specific fields, according to the institution. “We can look ahead to when 30 Wallman Fellows, with interests spanning the University from the humanities to molecular engineering, economics and public policy to biology and medicine, are at UChicago doing what we do best: defining new fields for knowledge that shapes the world,” Paul Alivisatos, president of the university, in a statement.

Couple dressed in light blue pose in front of forest
Richard and Amy Wallman have made several contributions to the school in the past. Photo courtesy of Art and Alex Photography

Shortly after receiving her MBA, Amy Wallman began a career at EY and retired from the firm as an audit partner in 2001. She was also a director at Omnicore, a healthcare company. Richard Wallman, meanwhile, began working at Ford Motor Company before serving as chief financial officer and senior vice president of manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. and its predecessor AlliedSignal, in addition to having held senior positions at both IBM and Chrysler Corporation. This isn’t the first time the couple has given back to the institution—the Wallmans have previously made four major financial gifts to the institution. “We are extremely pleased with our previous gifts, but we are particularly excited about the lasting and beneficial impacts on society that will result from the work of the Wallman Fellows initiative,” said Richard in a statement.

One of their former donations consisted of a $75 million contribution in 2017, with the funds earmarked for the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. To honor the gift, the school named its academic honors distinction for top MBA students in each class after the couple. The donation was the second largest in the history of the business department, following a $300 million gift in 2008 from alumnus and investor David Booth.

Significant donations at the University of Chicago

The Wallmans and Booth aren’t the only notable names who have supported the school over the years. In 2002, in what was then the school’s largest donation, the University of Chicago received $30 million from the billionaire Pritzker family, known for ventures such as the Hyatt hotel chain. The funds focused on supporting biological science and the Pritzker School of Medicine. Nearly two decades later, another school record was broken when the university received its largest ever estate bequest, a sum of $50 million for initiatives like financial aid and undergraduate research, from alumnus and investor Arley D. Cathey.

In 2017, Ken Griffin of Citadel gave $125 million to the school’s economics department, which has since been named after the billionaire. The school received another nine-figure donation that year from Craig and Janet Duchossois, who own the racecourse of the Kentucky Derby and contributed $100 million to establish an institute focused on the science of wellness. And in April, Ross Stevens, the CEO of Stone Ridge Holdings Group, gifted the same amount towards Booth School of Business’ PhD program, making his contribution the largest ever given to a PhD program at a business school.

A $75M Gift Will Endow Professorships at the University of Chicago