Building on Excellence

Marisa Pfhol works in the lab

A record-setting gift to the University will support and advance neuroscience research, create scholarships for students, and assist in the construction of a new basketball training facility.

Thomas M. Ryan ’75 Hon. ’99, former chairman, president, and CEO of CVS, and his wife, Cathy, have made a gift of $35 million to the University of Rhode Island, the largest private contribution in its history.

The gift earmarks $24 million for the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience to expand research and teaching capacity in neuroscience and $10 million for the creation of the Thomas M. Ryan Scholars, a scholarship program to attract high-performing students. Ryan Scholars will receive full four-year scholarships as well as access to the University’s Honors Colloquium, Leadership Institute, and Winter J-Term, a program offering short-term courses, both on-campus and abroad, that provides the opportunity for students to earn additional credits during their winter break. The first Ryan Scholars will enroll in the fall of 2020.

The Ryans also are issuing a $1 million challenge to inspire community support for a new basketball training facility. The upgrade will benefit the men’s and women’s teams and make URI a competitive destination for recruits.

Ryan said the intent of the gift is to further URI’s reputation of excellence.

Cathy and I are pleased (and fortunate) to be able to give this gift to the University of Rhode Island. Our hope is these monies will allow URI to maintain its trajectory as a top-flight university for teaching and learning while continuing to grow its dynamic research capabilities, especially in the area of neuroscience.
Tom Ryan ’75, Hon. ’99

The gift comes at a time of increased support for the University of Rhode Island; philanthropic giving has contributed significantly to $400 million in recent capital projects. Also, the University has seen record enrollment numbers in recent years, and 47 percent of the full-time faculty have been hired since 2011.


Thomas M. Ryan and his wife Cathy



Tom and Cathy Ryan make record gift of $35 million to University of Rhode Island for neuroscience, scholars program, and athletics.

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