News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of September 9, 2013

U-M to receive $200M from developer Stephen M. Ross

Largest single donation in U-M history puts Ross’ lifetime giving at more than $313 million; athletic campus to be named Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus

Real estate developer and alumnus Stephen M. Ross will give $200 million to U-M to significantly transform the student experience at the business school and athletic campus.

Ross’ gift is the largest single donation in U-M history and makes him the biggest donor to his alma mater, with lifetime giving of more than $313 million. The Stephen M. Ross School of Business and U-M Athletics each will receive $100 million.

Ross School of Business Dean Alison Davis-Blake, Stephen M. Ross, President Mary Sue Coleman and Athletic Director Dave Brandon talk at the event announcing Ross’ $200 million gift to U-M, which will be split evenly between the Ross School and Athletics. Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

Stephen M. Ross talks with President Mary Sue Coleman about his approach to philanthropy at an event to announce his $200 million gift to U-M. Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

The Davidson Winter Garden at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business is crowded with people on hand Sept. 4 to help thank Ross for his donation. Photo by Scott Soderberg, Michigan Photography. Below, Real estate developer and U-M alumnus Stephen M. Ross jumps to touch the banner that the football team runs under at home games. Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography.

With this gift, Ross becomes the third-largest donor to a business school in the United States.

Ross is chairman and founder of Related Companies, one of the most prominent real estate developers in the world. Related Companies is best known for the development of Time Warner Center in New York and the 26-acre Hudson Yards development currently underway on Manhattan’s west side. Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins.

In keeping with Ross’ professional and philanthropic vision for business education and athletics at U-M, projects will be designed to create contemporary spaces for the nearly 6,000 students who take courses at the Ross School of Business and for the 900-plus student athletes in all sports. In addition, scholarships will be available for Ross students. Specific projects will be announced in the coming months.

“Stephen Ross’ vision has always been about the ability of facilities to transform the human experience,” said President Mary Sue Coleman. “He understands the power of well-conceived spaces, and his generosity will benefit generations of Michigan students, faculty and coaches.

“This historic gift is not only an investment in the University of Michigan, but also in our state. Steve Ross believes deeply in our collective future as national and global leaders.”

Ross has agreed to chair the university’s Victors for Michigan Campaign that will kick off Nov. 8.

In 2004, Ross gave $100 million toward a new building and endowed operations for the business school, which was renamed in recognition of his gift. The building was completed in 2009.

“Stephen Ross provided us with the resources and vision to develop our signature Ross building. His most recent gift will allow us to build on that success and create a true business campus — one that features innovative design and advanced technology to empower students and faculty who share our mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world,” said Alison Davis-Blake, the Edward J. Frey Dean of the Ross School of Business.

Ross said: “The University of Michigan had a profound impact on my life and I have received enormous satisfaction from being able to give back to the institution that played such a critical role in my success. I am thrilled to be able to make such an impactful contribution and to not only help write the next chapter for the university, but also offer much-needed scholarships to ensure we continue to attract the best and the brightest students and provide them with the financial resources they need.

“I am confident that the initiatives we undertake will further transform the business school and athletic facilities and ensure the University of Michigan continues to offer a world-class institution for our future leaders. I could not be more proud.”

The Ross School of Business proposes to create:

• New spaces for students to study, collaborate and connect with each other, faculty and potential employers.

• A state-of-the-art career services space including an enhanced recruiting center to connect students with the best companies and careers.

• New spaces to support an “admission to alumni” approach to student and career services with dynamic events and opportunities on campus and beyond.

• A space to bring together faculty, students and corporate partners to create practice-oriented research on topics of key importance to local and global firms.

• Classrooms infused with advanced technology and innovative design to support in-person and virtual collaboration and connectivity on a global scale.

• The new and existing facilities will be seamlessly integrated both inside and out to create one campus.

• Scholarships for Ross students.

In previous donations to Athletics, Ross gave a $5 million lead gift to create the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center, which provides study space on the athletic campus. Additional past gifts include $5 million for the stadium expansion project and $50,000 to LSA for the Henry Pearce Endowed Scholarship, and scholarship support for student athletes.

“Stephen Ross shares our vision for an athletic campus that provides every student-athlete access to world-class facilities to successfully train and compete at the highest level athletically and academically,” said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics.

“Steve made his first gift to athletics to help build our Ross Academic Center and is now making a commitment to Michigan Athletics that will impact over 900 student-athletes across all 31 of our teams. We are excited and grateful for Steve’s generous support, and we look forward to appropriately recognizing Steve and celebrating this historic gift.”

Michigan Athletics proposes to improve its athletic campus to:

• Provide student-athletes on all 31 teams with the necessary resources to be academically and athletically successful.

• Develop state-of-the-art facilities that create a sense of community, identity and tradition for all of U-M teams.

• Create additional spaces that help student-athletes develop skills for success after athletics.

• Build facilities that are a destination for local, state, national and international competitions.

The campus will be named the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus in recognition of this transformative gift, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

Ross earned his Bachelor of Business Administration 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.

He serves on the executive committee and is a trustee of Lincoln Center, is a trustee of New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Guggenheim Foundation, and a director of the World Resources Institute and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Earlier this year, Ross committed to give half or more 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.

Posted by Prof. David E. Meyer | Sep 13, 2013
It is extremely frustrating, disappointing, and sad that such a large donation would apparently go just to parts of the university that are, at least in relative terms, already exceedingly well off on financial grounds. How come none of the donation went directly toward funding student scholarships, faculty salaries, and other essential expenses in units such as the College of Literature, Sciences and The Arts (LSA), which is at the heart of Michigan’s most crucial missions (i.e. the creation and transmission of fundamental human knowledge in mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities)? We need a return to proper highest valuing of the traditional core intellectual activities for which universities have been most importantly responsible, rather than continued increasing unduly exaggerated valuing of what should instead be peripheral athletic and commercial endeavors…

Leave a comment

All fields are required.

email address will not be shown

Please enter the words you see below for anti-spam purposes:



Margot Finn, a lecturer in university courses, on what she could not live without: “My existence would be profoundly different without the Internet (for research and communication).”


Audra McDonald performs favorite show tunes and more, 4 p.m. Sept. 15, Hill Auditorium.

View/Submit Events