University of Chicago receives $50 million gift from late alumnus Arley D. Cathey

Cathy Donation

The University of Chicago has received a $50 million gift from the late Arley D. Cathey, PhB’50, a devoted alumnus and patron of the University. The bequest, the largest estate gift in University history, was directed to UChicago when Cathey died in 2020 at the age of 93. It will support UChicago’s commitments to educational access and financial aid, enhanced opportunities for undergraduate research, and new international educational programs for College students and research collaborations sponsored by UChicago faculty abroad.

In honor of the gift, the College is launching a $20 million match campaign, called the Arley D. Cathey Odyssey Challenge, to support the Odyssey Scholarship Program. More than 5,300 students have accessed UChicago through Odyssey, the University’s flagship financial aid initiative, which helps ensure need-blind, loan-free education for students. The challenge will help continue the mentorship, study abroad and paid internships made possible through the program, along with the elimination of loans and academic-year work requirements.

Cathey’s legacy of philanthropy began in 2012 when he committed his estate—then valued at $17 million—to the College, in honor of his physician father, Arley D. Cathey Sr. In recognition of that gift, four spaces on campus were named for Cathey Sr.: The Harper Reading Room and Stuart North Reading Room in Harper Memorial Library became the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center, and the Cathey Dining Commons and Cathey House residential house on South Campus also bear his father’s name.

“The University of Chicago is deeply grateful to Arley for his generous support of undergraduate education,” said President Paul Alivisatos. “His bequest emphasizes the importance of UChicago’s transformative education and the University’s unwavering commitment to ensuring access for talented students worldwide.”

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