Alumnus’ donation endows athletic director position

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern’s athletic department will get a boost in funding, thanks to a $16 million donation from alumnus and trustee Christopher Combe (Weinberg ’70) and his wife, Courtney Combe, the University announced last week.

Ten million dollars will be used to endow the position of vice president of the department for athletics and recreation, currently held by Jim Phillips. The remaining money will endow two Kellogg School of Management initiatives in social entrepreneurship.

The money will allow Phillips to “seed important projects and address new opportunities,” the University said in a news release.

The Combes “understand the emphasis Northwestern places on providing a world-class experience for our student-athletes — academically, socially, and athletically,” Phillips said in the release. “I am honored and humbled to serve as the Chris and Courtney Combe Vice President for Athletics and Recreation.”

Football coach Pat Fitzgerald is the “Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach,” and women’s lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte Hiller is the “Combe Family Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach.” NU is among several universities with endowed athletic director positions, including Stanford University, Boston College and Vanderbilt University. 

Another $5 million will be used for the new Combe Family Impact Scholars Program in Kellogg, which gives students opportunities to use social entrepreneurial practices in developing solutions to global issues. The remaining $1 million will endow the new Combe Family Impact Award, a grant that enables students to pursue their own social entrepreneurial projects. 

Aside from serving on the NU Board of Trustees and the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, Christopher Combe is chairman and CEO of Combe Incorporated, a company that manufactures personal health and hygiene products.

“This visionary gift demonstrates (the Combes’) appreciation for Northwestern athletics at a very exciting time in its history, as well as their strong belief in what Kellogg can do to address and solve world issues,” University President Morton Schapiro said in the release. 

— Jeanne Kuang