At the announcement, there was a gasp from the crowd followed by a long ovation — sustained clapping for the new Hanley Sustainability Institute.
The campus community gathered in the Central Mall Sept. 19 to hear of the $12.5 million gift from George Hanley, a 1977 business graduate and member of the University of Dayton board of trustees, and his wife, Amanda Hanley, to support the University’s goal to become a national leader in sustainability education. It is the largest single gift in University history.
President Daniel J. Curran said the gift is an investment in the future of our planet from a couple who is passionate about environmental protection and the common good.
“At many universities, sustainability education is focused solely on the environmental sciences,” Curran said. “This gift will extend sustainability education across multiple disciplines. We’re deeply grateful to the Hanleys for their generosity and vision.”
Initial plans for the institute include developing an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in sustainability; creating an urban agriculture demonstration project with community partners; establishing Hanley Research Fellows and Hanley Scholars-in-Residence to support student and faculty research; and inaugurating the Hanley Conference on Sustainability Education. The goal is for the University to become the top-rated Catholic university on the STARS (Sustainability
Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) list for sustainability in higher education.
Noted Curran, “Sustainability is really a philosophy that stems from our Catholic, Marianist mission. It’s about how we protect the poor and vulnerable in our world. It’s about respecting human dignity. It’s about promoting the common good. In this respect the new Hanley Sustainability Institute complements our commitments in human rights research and education.”
The Hanleys took the podium to express their support for good work already achieved by the University community.
“My time here has affected … my life in so many ways,” George Hanley said. “This gift is about providing students, faculty and staff with the resources to solve the problems our world faces but also to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Added Amanda Hanley: “We are thrilled with UD’s national leadership and hope one day interdisciplinary sustainability education will run deep at every university.”
Ryan Schuessler, senior mechanical engineering student and director of the University’s 2014 Sustainability Week, said he’s seen interest in sustainability take off.
“A record number of first-year students selected sustainability as their learning-living community this year,” Schuessler said. “The sustainability movement is growing so fast. Students are looking for ways to link academics with action.”
Senior Saehan Lenzen is a mechanical engineering major with both a minor in sustainability and a concentration in energy systems.
“There’s so much passion for sustainability, and now we have the support for what we need to do. This pushes me toward staying [at UD] longer,” for a graduate degree, she said.
With the Hanleys’ lead gift, the University will launch a comprehensive campaign to raise additional funds from foundations, corporations and other donors to bring total funding for the institute to $25 million.
About the Hanleys
The Chicago couple have long been generous donors to the University. In 2007, they established the Hanley Trading Center in the University’s School of Business Administration. A recent gift supported the University’s ETHOS program, which allows students to use their engineering skills to implement locally sustainable technologies for humanitarian purposes around the world.
George Hanley is best known for founding Chicago-based Hanley Group, which was acquired by INTLFCStone, and for his membership at the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now CME Group. He presently serves as a co-founder and principal of Level 5 Trading.
Amanda Hanley is a strong advocate of environmental protection and innovative ideas for a healthier planet, people and economy. She has been working toward sustainable solutions for more than 25 years, serves on various environmental
boards, and frequently blogs about green issues.
George and Amanda Hanley created their family foundation in 1997. It has come to support organizations that are advancing environmental, educational and social empowerment solutions, both on a local and global scale. They are particularly drawn to innovative models in sustainability that can lead to wider systemic change and greater impact.