Richard Ritholz, BSBA ’84, was thrilled when his daughter, Madeleine, Class of 2020, made the decision to attend Washington University as a fashion design major. Having Madeleine at the university gave Mr. Ritholz and his wife, Linda, the opportunity to view the institution through new eyes. It also led the couple, longtime supporters of Olin Business School, to shift their philanthropy in a direction that is benefiting students across campus.
To help Olin put the tools of business into the hands of students pursuing creative professions, Mr. and Mrs. Ritholz committed $1 million in seed funding to launch a new minor in the business of the arts. The gift supports experiential learning opportunities, scholarships and internships, and the creation of new courses for the minor, which began enrolling undergraduates this fall.
“We know the university has a wealth of incredibly talented young artists, musicians, writers, and designers,” says William Bottom, the Joyce and Howard Wood Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior and chair of the undergraduate curriculum committee at Olin. “By providing them with a basic understanding of business and some critical skills, we can prepare them to excel in their fast-changing and supremely competitive fields.”
Recently retired from his position as an equity partner at New York-based Elliott Management Corp.—one of the world’s largest commodities firms—Mr. Ritholz has had a close-up view of changes in the global economy. But it was his daughter’s experience that inspired him and his wife to support the business of the arts minor. After her first year at the university, Madeleine switched her major to business to enhance her chances for success in the fashion industry. She now minors in fashion design.
“Madeleine made us realize how important it is for art and design students to study the principles of business. … these individuals will be in business for themselves or will work for creative organizations where it is essential to have a working knowledge of marketing, accounting, and other business concepts.”
—Richard Ritholz BSBA ’84
“Madeleine made us realize how important it is for art and design students to study the principles of business,” Mr. Ritholz says. “In almost all cases, these individuals will be in business for themselves or will work for creative organizations where it is essential to have a working knowledge of marketing, accounting, and other business concepts.”
The Ritholzes previously have provided significant gifts for scholarships and unrestricted purposes at Olin. Mr. Ritholz also has an exceptional record of volunteer service at the university. He recently was elected to the Board of Trustees, and he is a member of the business school’s national council and the North Jersey Regional Cabinet. He has received Distinguished Alumni Awards from both the university and the Olin School.
Of his support and service, Mr. Ritholz says, “I am a big believer in giving back and paying it forward. I have great feelings about my experience at Washington University. It’s a natural progression to be involved with an institution that means so much to me and my family.”