HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana University received the largest single donation in its 92-year history, an endowment totaling $10 million, the university announced Tuesday, April 11.
Seth W. Ryan, a 1953 Southeastern business graduate, passed away on March 1 leaving a significant portion of his estate to Southeastern’s Foundation in the name of his wife, Thelma McNamara Nicaud Ryan.
Southeastern was approached by Ryan’s attorney approached Southeastern about the potential bequest over 15 years ago. Ryan’s identity remained anonymous until his recent death.
The donation will become part of the Southeastern Louisiana University Foundation Scholarship Endowment. In honor of his wife, who was unable to attend college, Ryan outlined that income from his donation should be used for scholarships for female students in specific academic disciplines.
Southeastern President John L. Crain said Ryan's donation will provide for generations of women to attend college.
“Seth Ryan’s deep generosity will benefit female students in perpetuity. In honoring his wife, Thelma, he has established a legacy that will provide generations of women with the opportunity to benefit from strong careers and better futures,” Crain said.
Vice President for Advancement Wendy Lauderdale said the donation also helps one of the university's strategic initiatives which is to increase the number of women enrolled in STEM programs.
“Southeastern’s student population is over 60 percent female, but women only account for approximately 15 percent of STEM majors,” Lauderdale said. “These scholarships will encourage and aid women to enter these high demand, well paying disciplines.”
The scholarships will also be used in the areas of nursing, business and education for female students.
Additionally, the Biology Building will be named in Thelma Ryan's honor, subject to approval of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
Officially, it will be renamed the Thelma McNamara Nicaud Ryan Science Building. The building façade will have the name “Thelma Ryan Science Building” upon its dedication, which is anticipated this summer.
All programs housed within the building will offer scholarships under the Ryan gift.
“We are so honored that Mr. Ryan saw the potential in Southeastern as a steward of his estate. He saw that this university could make a difference in so many lives by using the estate that he spent a lifetime building. I know his wife would be both proud and satisfied,” said Lauderdale. “Having Mrs. Ryan’s name on our building will forever remind us of the kindness and vision of Mr. Ryan and his legacy of helping others.”