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Trustees endow basketball coaching position

Chris Collins is inaugural Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coach
Chris Collins
Chris Collins serves as the inaugural Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coach.

Two Northwestern University trustees and their spouses have endowed the men’s basketball head coaching position.

Trustee Tim Sullivan and his wife, Sue, and trustee and alumnus Jeff Ubben ’87 MBA and his wife, Laurie, have committed a total of $3 million to Northwestern Athletics and Recreation to establish the Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coaching position.

The couples’ gifts will provide support for the head coaching salary for men’s basketball, as well as ongoing operational funding for the program.

Chris Collins serves as the inaugural Sullivan-Ubben Head Men’s Basketball Coach. He is one of only three coaches to hold an endowed position at Northwestern. The other endowed coaching positions at the University are the Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach, held by Pat Fitzgerald ’97, and the Combe Family Head Lacrosse Coach, held by Kelly Amonte Hiller.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the Sullivans and the Ubbens for their generosity and passion for the men’s basketball program,” said Jim Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation. “The confidence that this reflects in Coach Collins, his staff and our student-athletes is pivotal to our success moving forward. With the upcoming renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena, and now this endowed head coaching position, Northwestern basketball is better prepared than ever to support our student-athletes’ pursuit of excellence in the classroom, in the community and in competition.”

Collins was named the 24th head coach of Wildcats men’s basketball in March 2013, bringing with him a track record of excellence. The Northbrook, Illinois, native has guided the ’Cats to a 12-3 record this season after leading Northwestern to a regular season-record 20 wins in 2015-16. Collins spent 13 seasons on the staff at Duke University, his alma mater, and has extensive experience with USA Basketball, including with the program’s gold-medal performances at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

“The faith in our staff and student-athletes displayed by the Sullivan and Ubben families is extraordinary,” Collins said. “We are building the foundation of something special here in Evanston, and the impact of their generosity will ripple through many different parts of our program moving forward. Our goal is to compete for and win Big Ten and NCAA championships, and every bit of support is critical to realizing those ambitions.”

“We are excited to be on the ground floor of the basketball program Jim Phillips and Chris Collins are building at Northwestern University,” said Tim Sullivan, managing partner at Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP), LLC, a leading private equity investment firm based in Chicago. Since MDP’s formation in 1992, the firm has raised seven funds with aggregate capital of over $17 billion and has completed investments in 132 companies across a broad spectrum of industries.

“Given his pedigree and background, we have no doubt Chris will be uniquely successful in creating one of the premier basketball programs in the country at one of the world’s leading research universities,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan has over 27 years of private equity experience and manages the Healthcare Practice at MDP. Prior to co-founding MDP in 1992, he was with First Chicago Venture Capital after serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy for over seven years of active duty. He currently serves on the board of directors of Option Care, Patterson Medical, Kaufman Hall, LLC and NASDAQ-listed VWR International, Inc. He also serves on the boards of trustees of Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, the United States Naval Academy Foundation, Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and the Big Shoulders Fund. Additionally, he serves on the investment and finance committees of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Sullivan has a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy, an M.S. from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Sue Sullivan is involved in a number of civic and educational organizations, including currently serving on the boards of trustees of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Josephinum Academy. She has also been involved with Big Shoulders of Chicago, having served on the steering committee of the 2016 Humanitarian Award Dinner, the Patrons Program and the STEM Initiative Committee.

Tim and Sue Sullivan have been longtime supporters of Northwestern basketball, including their gift to name the current head coach’s office in 2006. Previous gifts have supported Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and other areas of the University. The Sullivans are platinum-level members of NU Loyal, the giving society recognizing consistent giving to Northwestern.

The Sullivans are active members of the University and Northwestern Athletics communities. A charter trustee, Tim Sullivan serves on the Northwestern University Board of Trustees’ finance, investments and Northwestern Medicine committees. He is a member of the Athletics and Recreation Campaign Committee for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, the Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Board of Directors and the NU/WAVE investment committee, which supports athletics initiatives. Sue Sullivan is a member of the Northwestern University Women’s Board. The Sullivans also are basketball and football season ticket holders.

Tim and Sue Sullivan have been married for 35 years and have four children ranging in age from 27 to 20. They have been residents of Wilmette, Illinois, for over 25 years.

“I grew up watching NU basketball. With Chris’s arrival and the NU sports resurgence under the leadership of Jim Phillips, we wanted in on the ground floor,” said Jeff Ubben, CEO, chief investment officer and founder of ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco-based private money management firm.

Prior to founding ValueAct Capital in 2000, Ubben was a managing partner at Blum Capital Partners for more than five years. He is a director of Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. and Willis Towers Watson PLC.

Laurie Ubben is a co-founder of the Bird School of Music and producer of the film “Loving Vincent.” She serves on the board and national advisory committee of Youth Speaks.

Jeff and Laurie Ubben have been generous benefactors throughout the “We Will” Campaign. Their past gifts have included support for the Kellogg School of Management, Athletics and Recreation, the Bienen School of Music and other areas of the University. The Ubbens are members of NU Loyal and the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, which honors Northwestern supporters who have included the University in their estate plans.

A 1987 Kellogg graduate, Jeff Ubben is a charter trustee serving on the Board of Trustees’ finance and student life committees. He serves as a member of the steering committees for the “We Will” Campaign and Kellogg’s Transforming Together campaign, and he co-chairs the University’s San Francisco Regional Campaign Committee. He recently completed a 10-year tenure as chair of The Posse Foundation’s national board of directors; in this role, he was instrumental in developing Northwestern’s partnership with the college access and leadership development program.

Jeff and Laurie Ubben have three children: Charlotte, Josephine and Theo. Jeff Ubben’s father, Timothy, also attended Kellogg.

The funds raised through the “We Will” Campaign are helping realize the transformational vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities. More information on We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern is available at