Southeastern formally dedicated the Biology Building this past fall. Although officially it has been renamed the Thelma Ryan Biological Science Building, the building façade now bears the name “Thelma Ryan Biology Building.”
In 2017, Southeastern received the largest single donation in its history, an endowment totaling $10 million, from Seth W. Ryan, a 1953 Southeastern business graduate who passed away in March that same year. Ryan left a significant portion of his estate to the Southeastern Foundation in the name of his wife, Thelma Ryan.
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.
Vice President for University 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.
All programs housed within the newly dedicated 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.”