Ross Gets $50 Million More From Namesake

Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Stephen M. Ross, already one of the most generous philanthropists among business school donors, is reaching into his deep pockets again. The real estate developer and alumnus is giving an additional $50 million to the University of Michigan business school that is named after him.

The new gift, which will help the Ross School of Business develop junior faculty and enhance overall student experiences, brings his total business school donations to $250 million. That puts Ross second to only David Booth whose $300 million naming gift in 2008 to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business the largest B-school pledge ever.

Booth’s gift valued at $300 million ten years ago, however, has been worth well in excess of $500 million to Booth because it was given in the form of a stream of ongoing profits from a stake in Dimensional Fund Advisors, the company Booth co-founded and leads as co-CEO. With this latest gift to his namesake business school, Ross is now $100 million ahead of the third-place B-school donors, H. Fisk Johnson and Robert and Dorothy King, who have given $150 million to Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, respectively (see table of largest donors on next page).


Stephen Ross with Ross School Dean Scott DeRue

This latest gift, moreover, now brings Ross’ total lifetime giving to the University of Michigan to $378 million. In making the announcement today (Sept. 20), the school said that the majority of the new gift will support career development programs for students, innovative action-based learning experiences such as student-run investment funds and new business ventures, and resources for attracting and developing junior faculty.

“It gives me enormous joy to continue to give back to the University of Michigan, an institution that had such a profound impact on my life,” Ross said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of the physical transformation we have achieved at the business school, creating modern, new facilities and places students and faculty and future leaders can thrive.”

Ross, who earned his undergraduate degree in business from Michigan in 1962, is one of the wealthiest real estate billionaires in the world. As chairman and founder of Related Companies, Ross’ real estate company developed the Time Warner Center in New York as well as the 28-acre Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s west side. Owner of the Miami Dolphins, Ross’ net worth has been estimated by Forbes to be $6.5 billion.

Four years ago, Ross committed to give at least half 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.


He has been especially generous to Michigan as its single largest donor in the history of the university. Ross chairs U-M’s Victors for Michigan Campaign, which kicked off in fall 2013. The campaign has raised more than $4 billion to date and, with this Ross gift, the campaign has surpassed its $1 billion goal for student support.

The new gift creates:

  • A $16 million Student Success initiative that will help students develop career and professional skills, build a robust network of advisers and career advocates, personalize their learning journey, and access internships and career opportunities with leading companies around the globe. The Student Success initiative will help realize the vision of Michigan Ross as the most powerful career accelerator and best source of leadership talent in business education.
  • A $16 million Stephen M. Ross Faculty Support Fund for faculty who develop academic innovations that advance the school’s commitment to action-based learning, interdisciplinary education and leadership development. The fund also will support expanded mentoring and coaching for junior faculty, prestigious junior faculty professorships and additional research support—all of which will help Michigan Ross attract and retain rising stars in business education.
  • An $8 million Stephen M. Ross Student Investment Fund for academic programs and learning experiences in asset and investment management, including venture capital, private equity, commercial real estate and publicly traded securities. The fund will enable Michigan Ross to continue developing the world’s most innovative portfolio of student-run investment funds and build academic programs that accelerate student learning and career placement.

The remaining $10 million will go toward completing and maintaining the Ross School campus.


“Now that we have a state-of-the-art, inspiring space for faculty, staff and students, our focus is on attracting great talent and creating the most action-based, transformative student experiences in business education,” said Ross School Dean Scott DeRue in a statement. “To help us realize our vision, Stephen Ross is once again directing his generosity to our school.

“Steve’s dedication and his unwavering commitment to excellence have greatly enhanced the reputation of our business school globally, and we are excited for the future of Michigan Ross.”

In previous donations to U-M, Ross gave $200 million in 2013: $100 million for the Stephen M. Ross athletic campus for use by 900-plus student athletes in all sports, and $100 million to further develop a state-of-the-art collaborative learning environment on the Ross School campus. In 2004, Ross gave a historic $100 million gift to radically update the facilities and endow operations for the business school, which was renamed the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. The first building was completed in 2009.

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