Detroit Entrepreneurs Mike and Marian Ilitch Gift $40M Plus Use of Land to Wayne State University to Build New Business School in Detroit

Wayne State University is receiving a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch to build a new, state-of-the-art business school facility in Detroit. The gift, pending Board of Governors approval today, is the largest in the history of the university and ranks as one of the top ten gifts ever to a public business school in the United States.

In recognition of the Ilitches’ generosity, the school will be named the Mike Ilitch School of Business. The new building will be located on the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and Temple Street, extending the footprint of Wayne State’s campus south into The District Detroit.

“Marian and I have experienced in our own lives how entrepreneurship creates opportunity, builds community and drives philanthropy,” said Mike Ilitch. “We’re thrilled to work with Wayne State to bring those same values to the next generation of Detroit entrepreneurs in a new state-of-the art business school.”

“Business education at Wayne State will be transformed through the generosity of Mike and Marian Ilitch,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “Students will have unmatched access to the companies and industries evolving in Detroit, along with internships, networking and employment opportunities, all while contributing to the city’s renewal.”

The school, which will serve more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students, will provide new flexible teaching, research, office and community spaces for students and faculty bringing WSU’s outstanding business programs closer to the market. To date, the Wayne State University School of Business has more than 31,000 alumni, many of whom are top-level executives in metro Detroit and across the globe for brands like Carhartt, Aetna, Cadillac and Lear.

“Wayne State University is a cornerstone institution in Detroit’s past, present and future, and this gift is one of my parents’ most substantial demonstrations yet of their love for their hometown and its people,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “The new Mike Ilitch School of Business will offer a high-profile location, an iconic building and unique programs that will help shape the leaders who will continue to move this community forward.”

The Mike Ilitch School of Business will boast a competitive entrepreneurship track with coursework in areas including sports and entertainment management. Major structural elements of the building will include:

  • Open collaboration space
  • Student support facilities
  • Conference learning center
  • Classrooms
  • Lab space
  • Faculty offices

“Our new home in the heart of The District Detroit will provide an educational anchor institution that can merge programs and students with the dynamic economic growth currently underway,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of the business school. “We are grateful for this lead gift and investment by Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and the tremendous impact it will have on the educational experience of our students, as well as opportunities for our faculty to engage with the southeast Michigan business community.”

The Ilitches’ gift is part of Wayne State’s $750 million Pivotal Moments fundraising campaign. It is a lead gift toward the construction of the new business school and the University will seek additional support from successful Mike Ilitch School of Business alumni and friends to complete the new facility as part of the Pivotal Moments campaign.

Upon expected approval by the Wayne State Board of Governors today, this gift of $40 million will include $35 million plus use of the land dedicated to the construction of the new facility and a $5 million endowment upon completion of construction. The new facility is expected to open in 2018.

In 2014, the Ilitches donated $8.5 million to the Wayne State University Department of Surgery to aid surgical innovation at the medical school, including research on the pathophysiology of concussions related to sports injuries and the development of a robotic finger to be used in minimally invasive surgical procedures. Including this gift, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, as well as the Ilitch companies and foundations, will have given nearly $75 million to Detroit-based nonprofits since 2005.

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