Gift from Ford family to support Princeton athletics program

A gift from William Clay Ford Jr., a member of Princeton's Class of 1979, and Lisa Vanderzee Ford, of the Class of 1982, will create the Bill and Lisa Ford Family Directorship of Athletics at Princeton University. In addition to endowing the directorship, the gift will provide funding for Princeton's athletic director to invest in programs to enhance the student-athlete experience.

"I am very grateful to Bill and Lisa Ford for their gift, which will help to strengthen our very successful athletic program and allow us to even more fully develop our students' talents," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "The Fords' gift is the capstone in the athletics component of our Aspire fundraising campaign, which has increased our capacity to help our student-athletes to flourish. Princeton is justifiably proud of its student-athletes, who demonstrate that academic excellence and athletic prowess can go hand in hand."

The Fords' gift is part of the University's current $1.75 billion fundraising campaign, which includes a commitment to athletics as an important element of the Princeton experience. Alumni and friends have provided significant support for a range of varsity and recreational athletic programs as part of the Aspire campaign.

Princeton's athletics program encompasses 38 men's and women's varsity intercollegiate sports teams, almost 35 club teams, about 300 intramural teams, coaching staff, and campus athletics and fitness facilities.

The University's current athletics director, Gary Walters, a member of Princeton's Class of 1967, will be the first Ford Family Director of Athletics. Walters has led athletics at the University since 1994.

"The Princeton athletics department and I are profoundly honored," Walters said. "Through this transformative gift, Lisa and Bill have endorsed our goals and values, most especially Princeton's unique programmatic commitment to education through athletics."

A key component of the Fords' gift is the establishment of a discretionary fund that will enable the director of athletics to identify and support strategic initiatives across Princeton's athletics department, including varsity and recreational programs.

Bill Ford is executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and vice chairman of the Detroit Lions professional football team. He earned an undergraduate degree in history at Princeton and a Master of Science degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A former Princeton University trustee and longtime supporter of athletics at Princeton, Ford currently serves as a member of the Princeton Varsity Club board of directors and has served as a volunteer for Annual Giving, Princeton's yearly fundraising campaign. Lisa Ford was an economics major while at Princeton and also has served as an Annual Giving volunteer.

"Lisa and I believe deeply that the lessons our student-athletes learn in perseverance, teamwork and leadership will serve them well throughout their lives," Bill Ford said. "We are delighted to have a hand in ensuring that our Department of Athletics has the resources necessary to provide the valuable education that takes place whenever our athletes gather to practice and compete."