The University Record, July 22, 2002

Ann Lurie gives Engineering gift of $25 million

By Neal Lao
College of Engineering

Chicago-based philanthropist Ann Lurie has pledged $25 million to the U-M College of Engineering (COE), the largest gift ever received by the college.

“I make this gift for the continued advancement of interdisciplinary research, which is necessary for the future of a superb public university,” said Lurie. “I also wish to encourage like-minded individuals to determine and act upon their own significant reasons for investing in the University of Michigan.”

This gift will help support new programs in biomedical engineering and integrated microsystems. Drawing on the college’s historic and internationally recognized strengths, these programs offer tremendous opportunities to improve the quality of everyday life.

Research in the COE and School of Dentistry recently demonstrated how polymers could be used to encourage new blood vessel growth in specific areas of the body. This breakthrough is likely to lead to improving treatments for coronary artery disease, speeding the healing of wounds and helping diabetic patients who suffer from peripheral vascular disease. Similarly, COE is developing tiny microsystems composed of electrical and mechanical devices that could be used in cochlear implants to restore hearing to the deaf, and miniature environmental sensors that can warn people of nearby toxins.

“Ann Lurie’s philanthropy and grace have touched the College of Engineering in especially meaningful ways,” said Stephen W. Director, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, “first for engendering a sense of community through the Lurie Engineering Center and Tower, and now for providing confidence through this flexible commitment, helping us meet our aspirations for biomedical engineering and integrated microsystems.

According to Interim President B. Joseph White, the gift is one of the most significant ever received by the University and a bold endorsement of the College of Engineering.

“Michigan is extremely fortunate to have dedicated supporters such as Ann Lurie in our community,” said White. “We are particularly grateful that Ann is willing to make this commitment now and speak to the importance of moving forward with critical research in science and engineering.”

With this gift, Lurie has given $37 million to the College of Engineering and a combined total of $45 million to the U-M. She is the widow of Robert H. Lurie, a Michigan Engineering alumnus and entrepreneur. Bob Lurie and fellow alum Sam Zell became friends and business partners in the early 1960s while attending the University. Their first ventures, involving an apartment management service and property acquisition in southeastern Michigan, led to the pair eventually building the largest apartment and commercial real estate holdings in the country.

“Ann’s generosity contributes directly to the vitality of the college and the courses of knowledge we pursue,” said Director. “With some of the most meaningful advances of this century expected to occur in biomedical engineering and integrated microsystems, we are now better prepared to exploit these technologies for the benefit of humankind.”