Skip to main content

Twelve endowed professorships created through Ryan Family Chair Challenge

Generous matching gift from Patrick and Shirley Ryan expands challenge to spark additional gifts

Michael Terry, who holds the inaugural Dr. Charles and Leslie Snorf Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery, stands with benefactors Charles R. Snorf ’58 MD, ’63 GME and Leslie Snorf at a May 24, 2016, investiture ceremony
Michael Terry, who holds the inaugural Dr. Charles and Leslie Snorf Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery, stands with benefactors Charles R. Snorf ’58 MD, ’63 GME and Leslie Snorf at a May 24, 2016, investiture ceremony

CHICAGO - Twelve endowed professorships have been established at Northwestern University to date through the Ryan Family Chair Challenge, which matches gifts made by other Northwestern supporters to create new professorships, or chairs, across a wide range of disciplines.

The Ryan Family Chair Challenge was created by Northwestern alumni Patrick G. Ryan ’59, ’97 P, ’00 P, ’09 H and Shirley Welsh Ryan ’61, ’97 P, ’00 P. In October 2015, they made a gift of $25 million, $10 million of which was designated to create the challenge as a way to encourage a wider circle of benefactors to endow professorships in the benefactor’s name or in the name of someone they wish to honor. After the original goal of 10 endowed professorships was reached, the Ryans decided to expand the Ryan Family Chair Challenge with the hope that a total of 25 endowed professorships eventually will be created at Northwestern through the challenge.

“We are thrilled that the generosity of Pat and Shirley Ryan has already inspired other benefactors to fund 12 endowed professorships in areas of strategic importance to Northwestern,” University Provost Daniel Linzer said.

“Outstanding faculty are essential to extending Northwestern’s excellence in teaching and research for many years to come,” said Patrick Ryan, a Northwestern trustee. “Through the Ryan Family Chair Challenge, Shirley and I hope to help attract and retain as many top faculty as possible.”

The new endowed professorships created as part of the Ryan Family Chair Challenge are:

The Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Chair in Nanotechnology, established by the estates of Marcia and Rosaline Cohn and the Cohn Family Foundation. The Cohns were longtime supporters of Northwestern, also serving in many volunteer roles. Rosaline Cohn was a member of the Northwestern Women’s Board and an honorary fellow of the Buehler Center on Aging, Health and Society. She also served on the scholarship campaign steering committee during Campaign Northwestern, the University’s previous fundraising campaign; the executive board of the University Libraries; and the advisory board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Stone Institute of Psychiatry. Rosaline and Jacob Cohn’s daughter, Marcia, was also a member of the Women’s Board and the University Libraries’ executive board.

The Owen L. Coon Chair in Policy Analysis and Communication, established within the department of communication studies at Northwestern’s School of Communication by the Owen L. Coon Foundation.

“We are pleased to help establish this esteemed new professorship in the School of Communication and thereby contribute to the development of those skills in argumentation and debate that will assist policymakers to make more rational arguments in critical policy areas,” said Richard O. Briggs, president of the Owen L. Coon Foundation.

The Owen L. Coon Foundation was established in 1946 by financier and philanthropist Owen L. Coon, who earned degrees from what are now Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Pritzker School of Law in 1915 and 1919, respectively.

The Foundation is now managed by third-generation members of the Coon Family. The Foundation’s mission is “to promote public benefit through its contributions in order to continue Owen L. Coon’s vision of ‘giving people better opportunities so they can be of greater value to society,’” with education among its key program areas.

12endowed professorships established at Northwestern to date through the Ryan Family Chair Challenge.

The Lynn Hopton Davis and Greg Davis Professorship, established in nanoscience within Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences by Lynn Hopton Davis ’82, ’86 MBA, ’18 P, ’21 P and Greg Davis ’18 P, ’21 P.

“This endowed professorship will allow Northwestern to further its leadership in the field of nanoscience,” Lynn Hopton Davis said. “It is our hope that this gift will help Northwestern to be on the forefront of future advancements in medicine and technology as a result of Weinberg’s important research in this area.”

Lynn Hopton Davis is a graduate of both Weinberg College and the Kellogg School of Management and is the founding chair of the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Regional Board in Los Angeles. She and Greg Davis both serve as co-chairs of the Los Angeles Regional Campaign Committee for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern and are proud parents of Clayton ’18, a junior at Northwestern, and Haley ’21, who will join the Class of 2021 in the fall. 

The Neil J. Stone, M.D., Professorship, established by John Flanagan ’58 MBA in the department of medicine, division of cardiology, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The endowed professorship honors Neil J. Stone ’66, ’68 MD, ’74 GME, ’75 GME, ’98 P, ’05 P, the Robert Bonow, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Feinberg. Stone’s longest-standing patient, Flanagan chose to honor Stone because “he has been an unbelievable physician and friend to me over the years.”

“I learned from a good friend of mine who is a Feinberg alumnus: support the faculty, students and trainees because you can have a tremendous impact on them individually,” Flanagan added.

Flanagan earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in 1958. He has previously provided support to Kellogg and other areas of the University.

The Foglia Family Chair in Dermatology, established by Vince and Patricia Foglia and the Foglia Family Foundation in Feinberg’s department of dermatology. The Foglias’ gift will allow the medical school to recruit a physician-scientist dedicated to discovery that will benefit patients with skin disease. This individual will join the faculty of the Northwestern Skin Disease Research Center, one of only six such centers in the United States recognized and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The Foglias have been involved with and supported Feinberg and the department of dermatology for more than 15 years. In 2002, the couple established at the medical school the Vincent W. Foglia Family Research Professorship in Dermatology, which is currently held by Dennis P. West.

“I want to give back to the hospital industry in which I’ve worked my whole life,” said Vince Foglia, who founded medical materials manufacturer Sage Products in Cary, Illinois, in 1971.

The Ryans hope a total of 25 endowed professorships are established at Northwestern through the challenge.

The Harvey Kapnick Professor of Business Institutions, established by the Kapnick Foundation in the Harvey Kapnick Center for Business Institutions at Weinberg College. The endowed professorship is the second to be established by the Kapnick family; the first, also named the Harvey Kapnick Professor of Business Institutions, was established in 1988.

Harvey Kapnick, who passed away in 2002, was a life trustee and loyal supporter of Northwestern who, for years, never missed a home football game. Two of Kapnick’s grandchildren -- Carolyn Hunter ’05 and John Kapnick ’10 -- graduated from Northwestern. Kapnick had three sons -- David, Brad and Scott Kapnick -- all of whom have pursued careers related to finance.

“We are delighted to continue our long-standing tradition of supporting Northwestern University,” Scott Kapnick said. “Our hope is that this gift will allow more students to benefit from the broad interdisciplinary perspective that will prepare them as visionary leaders in their careers.”

The Mary and Patrick Scanlan Professorship, established in Feinberg’s department of urology by the Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan Family Foundation. The Scanlans made a gift to Northwestern in honor of the care Patrick Scanlan received from Edward M. Schaeffer, an internationally recognized physician-scientist with deep expertise in urologic oncology, and in support of further research in the field of prostate cancer. Schaeffer joined Feinberg in December 2015 as the Edmund Andrews Professor and chair of the department of urology.

“I am very thankful to Dr. Schaeffer and appreciative of his work,” said Patrick Scanlan, a successful engineer-turned-distiller who lives in Aspen, Colorado. “If things had gone differently with my diagnosis and treatment, I might not be here today. I credit Dr. Schaeffer for that.”

Outstanding faculty are essential to extending Northwestern’s excellence in teaching and research for many years to come.

Patrick Ryan
Northwestern trustee
Patrick Scanlan pursued myriad career paths in the United States Army, with IBM Federal Systems and Lockheed Martin working on classified programs for the Department of Defense, and finally as the founder and owner of Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt, Colorado.

The couple hopes that their philanthropy at Northwestern will make possible more cutting-edge breakthroughs in urology.

“After Patrick’s experience with Dr. Schaeffer, we wanted to do something in his honor that would really make a difference,” Mary Scanlan said. In addition to co-owning Woody Creek Distillers with her husband, Mary serves on the board at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She also is on the boards of the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut, the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Country Day School, the Aspen Community Foundation and Aspen Junior Hockey.

The Dr. Charles and Leslie Snorf Professorship in Orthopaedic Surgery, established in Feinberg’s department of orthopaedic surgery by Charles R. Snorf ’58 MD, ’63 GME and Leslie Snorf. Michael Terry has been appointed as the inaugural holder of the endowed professorship.

The Snorfs also established the Charles and Leslie Snorf Research and Education Fund and added $1 million in new scholarship funds to the Snorf Medical Student Scholarship Fund, which has supported 14 medical students since its inception in 1997.

Charles Snorf, a retired orthopaedic surgeon, is a 1958 graduate of Feinberg, where he also completed his orthopaedic residency in 1963. “Going to Northwestern for medical school and residency was the most important and defining part of my development as a physician,” Charles Snorf said. “The program and professors, as well as the residents in orthopaedics, were all outstanding -- some of the top in the nation.”

The W. Rockwell Wirtz Professorship, established by Chicago Blackhawks chairman W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz ’75 and his wife, Marilyn, as well as the Wirtz Corporation, in the School of Communication.

The endowed professorship is one of several lasting contributions of the Wirtz family to Northwestern’s School of Communication. The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is named for Rocky Wirtz’s grandmother, who graduated from Northwestern in 1924. Support from the Wirtzes has fueled the School of Communication’s high-profile collaborations with professional artists and regional theaters -- including the American Music Theatre Project, which brings music theatre professionals and Northwestern students and faculty together to develop new plays that have their first productions at the University. The Wirtz family has also provided resources for the School of Communication’s arts programs for Chicago-area children, including Imagine U, and for its graduate programs in theatre directing and design. And since 2009, the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Visiting Artist Program has brought some of the most talented and successful performing arts professionals to campus to work with Northwestern students and faculty.

“We are honored to support an institution so important to our family as Northwestern University,” Rocky Wirtz said. “My grandmother, Virginia, graduated from Northwestern in 1924. In her lifetime, she enjoyed the performing arts, and this endowed chair is another way we can allow Northwestern to be on the cutting edge of the arts. We are proud to support a program intended to attract the top professors and continue that legacy.”

Rocky Wirtz is a member of the Northwestern Board of Trustees and has served on the School of Communication’s National Advisory Board since 1986. He received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Communication in 1975 and made his first gift to Northwestern in 1976. Wirtz also is a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Blackhawks Charities.

• An additional professorship will support a faculty member with appointments in both biomedical engineering and medicine. Professorships also will be created in the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center and other areas.

About the Ryans

Patrick G. Ryan is a 1959 Northwestern graduate. He received his undergraduate degree in business from what was then called the School of Business and now is named the Kellogg School of Management. He also received an honorary degree from the University in 2009 in appreciation for his 14 years of service as chairman of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees. In 2013, he was inducted into Northwestern’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Shirley Welsh Ryan is a 1961 Northwestern graduate. She received her undergraduate degree in English from what was then called the College of Arts and Sciences and is now named the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

The Ryans serve as co-chairs for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, a $3.75 billion University-wide fundraising initiative designed to support Northwestern’s strategic ambitions.

Mr. Ryan is distinguished as one of Chicago’s most successful entrepreneurs and prominent civic leaders. His first business venture while a student involved selling scrapbooks to fellow students, which paid for his Northwestern education. Mr. Ryan founded and served for 41 years as CEO of Aon Corporation, the leading global provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage. At the time of his retirement, Aon had nearly $8 billion in annual revenue with more than 500 offices in 120 countries. In 2010, Mr. Ryan founded Ryan Specialty Group, an international holding company which includes wholesale brokerage (the third largest in the country) and highly specialized underwriting companies designed specifically for agents, brokers and insurers; Mr. Ryan currently serves as chairman and CEO. He is a member of the International Insurance Hall of Fame, a member and immediate past chairman of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees, a recipient of the esteemed Horatio Alger Award and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mrs. Ryan founded and directs Northwestern’s graduate-level Learning for Life series and is a charter member of the Northwestern Women’s Board. She is chair of Pathways.org, has been appointed by two U.S. presidents to the National Council on Disability, and serves on the executive committee or on the board of directors of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Mrs. Ryan has received several honorary degrees, including one from Notre Dame -- where she was honored in 2015 for promoting full inclusion and accessibility for all people.

Mr. and Mrs. Ryan treasure their three sons, Pat, Rob and Corbett; daughter-in-law, Lydia; and three grandchildren, along with their extended family members, many of whom have Northwestern degrees.

About the “We Will” Campaign

As of June 30, 2017, Northwestern has raised $3.43 billion towards its $3.75 billion goal for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern. 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 wewill.northwestern.edu.

Topics: Gifts

Editor's Picks

Back to top