Alumni Couple Give Chicago Booth $75M

Amy and Richard Wallman’s $75 million gift to their alma mater, Chicago Booth School of Business, is the 14th-largest ever given to a U.S. business school. Courtesy photo

For business schools and their deep-pocketed alumni, autumn is the season of giving.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business became the latest B-school to benefit from the largesse of former students, announcing today (October 4) that Amy and Richard Wallman have donated $75 million to the school for scholarships, talent recruitment, co-curricular programming, faculty research, and emerging priorities at the discretion of Dean Madhav Rajan. The Wallmans met at Booth in the 1970s while earning their MBAs.

The Wallmans’ massive gift comes just weeks after similar announcements at the University of Michigan, whose Ross School of Business received $50 million more from frequent donor and namesake Stephen Ross; and Iowa State University, which renamed its business school the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business to honor an alum couple that gave $50 million, the largest gift in school history. Also last month, two Harvard Business School alums, Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine, pledged $12.5 million for HBS fellowships.

A PLACE AMONG THE TOP GIFTS AND GIVERS

Chicago Booth already is the happy recipient of the largest gift in business school history, a $300 million donation from namesake David Booth in 2008. Michigan Ross mega-donor Stephen Ross looked set to challenge Booth, in a sort of philanthropic arms race, when Ross’s latest gift in September brought his total donations to Michigan’s B-school up to $250 million since 2004.

However, Booth’s gift valued at $300 million 10 years ago 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.

The Wallmans’ gift to Booth puts them squarely in the upper echelons of business education philanthropy (see chart below), the 14th-largest gift ever — tied with a $75 million gift from Al and Judy Warrington to their namesake school at the University of Florida in 2014. Nor is it the Wallmans’ first gift to their alma mater: They have previously sponsored 26 scholarship recipients over the years.

A FUND FOR SCHOLARSHIPS, CURRICULAR CHANGES, AND RESEARCH

In recognition of the Wallmans’ gift, Booth will name its academic high honors distinction after them, with top students to be known as the Amy and Richard F. Wallman Scholars at Chicago Booth. Graduating MBA students who earn high honors will receive the designation, and already-graduated alums will receive the distinction retroactively, according to a Booth news release.

In more concrete ways, the school announced it plans to use the $75 million gift to support a number of initiatives, including scholarships for students in the full-time, evening, weekend, and executive MBA programs, as well as programming and research. The Wallmans’ gift is “a testament to their generosity and the endorsement of Chicago Booth’s enduring strengths, in our programs and our extraordinary faculty,” Dean Rajan said. “Maintaining and extending Booth’s prominence in research and enhancing the impact of our ideas on the world by training tomorrow’s leaders is essential for our continued success. The Wallman Scholars will be recognized as preeminent in this cadre of future leaders, modeling the potential and the spirit of their benefactors. I look forward to working with the Wallmans in using their gift to make the greatest impact.”

After earning her MBA from Booth in 1975, Amy Wallman began her career at EY and retired as an audit partner in 2001; most recently, she was director at Omnicare from 2004 to 2015. Richard Wallman graduated from Booth in 1974 and began his career with the Ford Motor Company. He served as chief financial officer and senior vice president of Honeywell International Inc., a diversified industrial technology and manufacturing company, and its predecessor AlliedSignal, from 1995 to 2003. Richard Wallman also served in senior financial positions with IBM and Chrysler Corporation.

“We have great affection for the University of Chicago — the Booth School of Business is world-class, and we hope our gift makes it even better,” Amy Wallman said in the school’s announcement of the gift. “This is a unique opportunity to make a difference in the careers of Chicago Booth students for generations to come and express our gratitude to those who have helped us. Our parents were great role models to both of us; they gave us the confidence that we could accomplish anything.” Added Richard Wallman: “Amy and I were so impressed with Dean Rajan’s vision for the school; we hope our gift will help advance that vision.”

DON’T MISS ROSS GETS $50 MILLON MORE FROM ITS NAMESAKE and IOWA STATE B-SCHOOL GETS $50 MILLION AND A NEW NAME

  • Just Guessing but

    He was CFO of Honeywell. The current CFO of that company makes $7MM in total compensation per year. She was an EY partner. EY Partners make an average of “only” 700k a year, but she likely was not average. They are both in boards of big corporations so obviously they make a few more bucks out of those.

    Both are Booth alums, so if I were to guess, they made the bulk of their $75MM donation from returns on their investments, rather than salaries. After all, Chicago Booth pretty much created the futures market and rewrote the rules on modern investing…. and it makes sense as a tax reduction strategy.

  • Alfonso

    Good for Chicago’s Booth, but it is an interesting that such large gift comes from someone who was an employee! is it possible to be that rich while being an employee of large corporation?

  • hmm

    Wow. Booth keeps on piling on the money.

    It’s gauche to put too much emphasis on money, but its money like this that is cementing Booth’s ability to compete for the top spot vs HBS

  • Marc Ethier

    Fixed – thanks!

  • JR

    Great article. I believe the gift was in 2007, not 1997. It’s shown as 1997 in the text and the table. Thanks.