Prominent alumnus Arthur F. Ryan '63 and his wife, Patricia, will donate $5 million to create a state-of-the-art home for the Providence College School of Business. With their gift, Dore Hall, a former residence hall, will be renovated as the center of a new structure to be named the Arthur and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies.
“This gift represents an investment in the college that has meant so much to me,” said Ryan, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Prudential Financial, Inc. Ryan earned a mathematics degree from PC in 1963 and was awarded an honorary doctor of business administration degree in 1990.
“I look forward to the day — very soon — when our students and faculty have access to a business facility that matches their collective intellect, passion, and commitment to the ideals of Providence College,” said Ryan.
The lead gift from the Ryans is part of the $140 million fundraising campaign, Our Moment: The Next Century Campaign for Providence College, which launched in October and has already raised more than $112 million. College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. '80 said the pledge is indicative of the Ryans’ lifelong commitment to philanthropy.
“Arthur Ryan is one of the most successful businessmen who ever came out of PC,” said Father Shanley. “He learned that business is not just about making money, but also about giving back to the community. Art and Pat have been benefactors to countless projects, and it really was important to have this named in their honor so that people will remember them.
“If you’re a student going to the Ryan Center every day, you’re going to know who Mr. Ryan is,” said Father Shanley. “We’re saying, in a subtle way, aspire high. You can become one of the top business people in the country.”
The Ryans’ gift comes as the PC School of Business, established in 2007 and thriving under Dean Sylvia Maxfield’s leadership, is drawing increased national attention. In 2012, it joined the ranks of elite business schools in the world with its accreditation by AACSB International, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Last year, it soared to 75th in Bloomberg Businessweek’s rankings of the nation’s top undergraduate business programs — a jump of 34 places, the largest of any school, based on employer survey responses.
“Our alumni are incredibly excited about the momentum we’ve been enjoying,” Maxfield said. “This new facility will ensure continued excellence and growing national prominence for the School of Business.”
The school offers undergraduate programs in accountancy, finance, marketing, and management, and a graduate MBA Program. About a third of PC undergraduates major in business. Liberal arts is an essential part of the business curriculum, with business professors, including Maxfield, teaching in the College’s signature Development of Western Civilization Program.
Father Shanley said the design process for the renovated business building included input from faculty, staff, and students. The building, shown at left, with its designed landscape, will face the portion of Huxley Avenue purchased by the College.
The 64,000-square-foot, four-story structure, designed by Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Cambridge, Mass., will include a glass atrium entrance, classrooms, conference rooms, computer labs, collaboration rooms, interview suites, and a student café, among other features. For more details about the project, go to the Arthur and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies website.
“We took great care with the design,” said Maxfield. “We wanted to honor the educational tradition of Providence College, but we also wanted to signal that we are moving into a 21st century education.”
Groundbreaking for the renovation will occur once the $10 million fundraising threshold for the project has been reached, said Gregory T. Waldron, senior vice president for institutional advancement. The Ryans’ gift represents “a truly significant step” toward the start of construction, hopefully during 2015, he said.
Waldron said a goal of the Our Moment campaign is “to continue to establish a fundraising culture of philanthropy that gets to the heart of what PC is all about and produces results. Philanthropy literally means love of humanity. Without a doubt, PC is one of the most philanthropic institutions I know.”
The Ryans are Platinum Torchbearers in the 1917 Society, a designation reserved for those who have donated more than $1 million to the College. In 2005, the Ryans pledged $1 million for construction of the Smith Center for the Arts, where the Ryan Concert Hall is named for them. Earlier, they established the Arthur F. Ryan Family Scholarship Fund, which allows needy students from Suffolk County, N.Y., where Arthur Ryan grew up, to study business at PC.
The Ryans have been especially generous to the state of New Jersey, where Prudential Financial is located. They financially supported the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where the upper rotunda is named The Ryan Gallery, and educational causes. Mrs. Ryan served as co-chair of the Branch Brook Park Alliance in Newark. In appreciation for the couple’s efforts, two lion statues at the park were dedicated to them.
Following his PC graduation, Ryan worked in the computer industry before joining Chase Manhattan Bank, where he rose from project manager in data processing to president and chief operating officer during a 22-year career. When he joined Prudential Insurance Co. of America in 1994, he was the first chairman and CEO elected from outside the company. He oversaw its transition from a mutual company to a publicly traded company known as Prudential Financial. He retired in 2008.
In addition to his many volunteer roles on behalf of PC, Ryan served on the Board of Trustees from 1995-2011. He is a member of the board of directors at Citizens Financial Group. The Ryans have four children, including Arthur W. Ryan ’89, and six grandchildren, and reside in Vero Beach, Fla.