by Eileen Cooney ’23
Earlier this week, Providence College announced that the family of Donald R. Ryan ’69 would give PC a $2 million gift to establish an incubator for entrepreneurship. The Donald Ryan Incubator for Entrepreneurship in the Arts and Sciences will be a place where students from all academic disciplines can create and experiment with their own unique products or new service and organization ideas.
The incubator is expected to become a noteworthy gathering place on campus for students, as it will be equipped with the newest technology, areas for individual study or work, and a collaborative working space. Smaller grants for the development of curricula will be available to professors, and it is expected that School of Business faculty will mentor and support those using the incubator’s services.
Additionally, the incubator’s space and services are expected to be geared toward the unique business and innovation minor, which “combines the best of a liberal arts education with contemporary courses in business.” The interdisciplinary nature of the minor allows non-business majors to obtain a valuable set of skills, as students within the minor take various foundational courses within different disciplines such as accounting, computer science, and art.
Dr. Sean Reid, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, has expressed his utmost excitement about the academic programs and opportunities that the incubator will provide for students. He said he remembers “reading something that Professor Eric Sung [associate professor of photography and director of the business and innovation program] wrote essentially saying that to address larger societal issues, we need ‘thinkers’ who can make connections through various areas of expertise.”
Reid expresses his affirmation of this statement by Professor Sung and said he believes “the Donald Ryan Incubator for Entrepreneurship in the Arts and Sciences will help provide countless opportunities for students to become better multidisciplinary thinkers. It will be invaluable to have a space where students can work together and with faculty mentors to try, fail, learn from their mistakes, and ultimately succeed.”
Donald Ryan ’69, a political science major during his time at the College, was described by his family as “an entrepreneur at heart—an out-of-the box thinker, always two steps ahead of technology.” He was chairman and CEO of CareCore National, LLC in Bluffton, SC. He co-founded the company in 1994, which provided benefit management services to health care providers in various fields from radiology, to cardiology, to medical and radiation oncology.
Ryan’s innovative, trailblazing spirit is exemplified in his decision to move the company from Wappingers Falls, NY to Bluffton in 2007. It is estimated that this shift generated 300 new jobs for those in the Bluffton area. In 2010, as CareCore National expanded and created even more new jobs, the town named it the Bluffton-Hardeeville Small Business of the Year.
The Ryan family has always been deeply involved and committed to the PC community. In 2011, after Donald Ryan’s death at only 64 years old, his wife Helen and their two children Keri and Kevin established a $500,000 scholarship at PC in his memory. They befriended the first recipient of the scholarship and have been extremely involved in his life and the PC community ever since.
Reid said, “We couldn’t be more grateful for this gift from the Ryan family. They have been consistent champions of Providence College and have a deep understanding of the academic experience we strive to offer. Specifically, Don Ryan knew firsthand what entrepreneurship and innovation looked like—his career trajectory as a leader in the healthcare industry proves that. To have an on-campus space for innovation named for this great PC alumnus is our honor. We can’t wait to get working on it.”