Million-dollar gift opens doors for students

Michelle and Jim Ryan

A $1 million gift to launch an innovative new scholarship program funded by alumnus Jim Ryan ’80 and his wife, Michelle, will make a Miami education possible for students with high financial needs.

The Ryan Family Scholars Program takes a holistic approach to supporting student success. Recipients will receive tuition, room & board and fees up to $20,000 annually. Students may major in any discipline, provided they are minoring or co-majoring in entrepreneurship.

The program includes access to the Farmer School’s unique Passport Program -- a high-touch student success program for first-year students that provides an assigned academic advisor to give them dedicated academic and career advising, as well as further expand upon skills related to transitioning to college, career development, time management, study skills, and degree planning. Scholarship awardees are also guaranteed an internship. 

Ryan, a marketing graduate, explained his family’s decision to create this program as driven by his family’s connection to and love for the university – both of his sons are also graduates – and their desire to support higher education for traditionally underserved populations. “I think Miami was a big part of my success, so I feel a responsibility to give back in that way. The scholarship program really brings together all of our family connections to Miami plus our philanthropic commitment to education for kids from underserved communities," Ryan explained. "Because of her background as an educator, Michelle has been the inspiration behind this gift. We were both impressed with the university’s enthusiasm for the holistic nature of this program, as demonstrated by their stepping up to the plate and matching 50% of our donation.”

Farmer School Dean and Mitchell P. Rales Chair in Business Leadership Marc Rubin noted, “One of the most exciting aspects of the Ryan Family Scholars Program is the guaranteed internship. Real work experience is one of the key differentiators for our graduates, and historically, a high percentage of our students who intern are offered a permanent position by the company with which they intern. Another key element is that students from outside the Farmer School are encouraged to apply, as long as they have a minor or co-major in Entrepreneurship. Our Institute for Entrepreneurship has just been ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the Top Five public undergraduate programs in the country, making this an unparalleled opportunity for students to graduate beyond ready – no matter what their chosen career path.”

The first scholarships will be awarded for the 2020-2021 academic year. Overall, 16 students will receive the scholarship over the next seven years.

Related: Listen to Ryan's 2018 interview on Beyond High Street.