Board of Trustees elect Jim Ryan as chair

Kristin Claes Mathews
May 19, 2017

Proven business leader and DePaul alumnus James T. Ryan was elected chair of DePaul's Board of Trustees. He succeeds William E. Bennett, who will continue to serve on the board. Ryan is chairman of industrial supply company Grainger and has served on DePaul's board since 2007. As vice chair, Ryan led the recent search for the university's next president.

"Jim has demonstrated a strong commitment to DePaul's mission and values," Bennett says. "He showed great leadership while guiding the university through a competitive, successful presidential search. I am pleased to welcome him into this role."

Ryan retired last year as president and CEO of Lake Forest, Illinois-based W.W. Grainger, Inc. and remains as chairman of the board, a position he has held since 2009. He served as CEO from 2008 to 2016 and was named president in 2006. Serving in increasingly responsible roles since 1980, Ryan helped guide Grainger through economic challenges and major changes in the marketplace, from preparing information systems ahead of Y2K to adapting sales and marketing with the rise of online competition.

"Jim's deep commitment to DePaul's mission and his proven experience make him a perfect fit for this role. I enjoyed getting to know him during the presidential search and look forward to working with the leadership team as we enter DePaul's next chapter," says A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., president-elect of DePaul. Ryan was chair of the presidential search committee that ultimately chose Esteban to become DePaul's 12th president. Esteban steps into his new role July 1.

Recently Ryan and his wife, Michelle, donated $1 million to fund a scholarship at the university. The James T. and Michelle A. Ryan Family Scholarship will fund tuition and expenses for students from modest economic means and will give preference to applicants from Chicago Jesuit Academy, a middle school in the Austin neighborhood that offers young men a college prep education in the Catholic tradition.

"DePaul makes a real difference in Chicago and prepares students for the real world challenges of work and life," Ryan says. "I am honored to work with the Board of Trustees and Dr. Esteban to serve the DePaul community."

A graduate of DePaul, Ryan earned an MBA with a concentration in marketing from the Driehaus College of Business. In 1999, Ryan received the Distinguished MBA Alumni Award from DePaul. He also holds a bachelor's degree in business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

DePaul University's Board of Trustees is responsible for shaping the strategies that best promote the fulfillment of the university's mission and values. During a May 18 meeting, the board also honored Jim Jenness and the Rev. Thomas Anslow, C.M., by naming them life trustees of the university. Jenness has served on the board since 2002 and was chair from 2011 to 2014. Fr. Anslow had served as a trustee since 2011 and was read the resolution earlier this spring, before he passed away from a long illness. Lori Holland, managing director at Neuberger Berman, was elected vice chair. Holland earned a bachelor's degree in finance from DePaul and joined the board in 2011.