Northwestern to build new opera theater in honor of alumna

Rebecca Savransky, Managing Editor

A new opera theater, to be located in the Music and Communication building which will be completed in 2015, will be named the Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater in honor of a Northwestern alumna.

The theater, which will include rehearsal and performance space, is named after Shirley Welsh Ryan (Weinberg ’61), who jointly contributed with her husband Patrick Ryan (Kellogg ’59) to NU’s $3.75 billion fundraising campaign, We Will: The Campaign for Northwestern.

“The Ryans are passionate supporters of the arts and of all things Northwestern, and Shirley and Pat’s love of opera will be reflected in this world-class theater,” President Morton Schapiro said in a news release. “I look forward to attending performances in this special space as our students prepare for careers at the top opera houses in the world.”

Welsh Ryan currently serves as a chair of and on the executive committee or board of directors of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. She and her husband have contributed to NU for many years, supporting different projects including scholarships, the Feinberg School of Medicine and the construction of NU’s nanotechnology center.

“Our family has a deep appreciation for music — especially opera — and it brings us great joy to watch Northwestern students develop and hone their crafts as young artists,” Shirley Welsh Ryan said in a news release. “Whether they perform on stage or are members of the audience, we encourage Northwestern students to embark on a lifelong relationship with music.”

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