Book of Booth Amy and Richard Wallman
Illustration by Greg Betza

The Book of Booth: Amy and Richard Wallman

The couple’s $75 million gift to Chicago Booth is the second largest in the school’s history. But for the Wallmans, it’s the latest in more than 40 years of giving to Booth.

In the fall of 1973, a first-year MBA student was moving her things into the graduate-school dorm at the University of Chicago. Second-year MBA students lingered about, some attempting to sell refrigerators and hot plates left by people who had graduated the year before.

One of those second-year students was Richard Wallman, who stopped to help the new resident carry her belongings. The two became friends, and three years later, Amy and Richard married.

Over the past 40 years, the Wallmans have enjoyed successful careers in business. Amy began her career at EY, retiring as an audit partner in 2001. Most recently, she was director at Cincinnati-based health-care company Omnicare from 2004 to 2015. Richard began his career at Ford Motor Company and served in senior financial positions at Honeywell International and its predecessor AlliedSignal, as well as at IBM and Chrysler.

In October, the two made a $75 million gift to Booth. In recognition of the gift, Booth renamed its academic high honors distinction after the Wallmans. Their generosity builds upon their legacy of supporting students and faculty.

What impact do you want this gift to have on the Booth community?

Richard: We’ve helped fund scholarships at many schools, and we’ve had 58 recipients to date. It’s interesting when we talk to them. Almost all say they couldn’t have attended school without the scholarship.

So, when you give, you’re helping to start someone on a road to achieve his or her objectives. And that’s what we hope happens with this gift. We hope that it helps a lot of people achieve their goals. Then, when they’re successful, they can do something charitable
in return.

This is not your first gift to Booth. You’ve committed more than $79 million to the school since 1976, including this most recent gift. What’s kept you engaged with Booth for more than 40 years?

Amy: When I was a student here, I got a small scholarship and I appreciated it. We believe in education, and providing education is an ongoing endeavor. The more people can experience it, the better off the community is.

Why do you think it’s important for Booth alumni to remain engaged with their alma mater? 

Richard: Chicago has impacted the lives of alumni in many positive ways, and that’s the reason to stay connected. Doing something for the school is good because the school was helpful to you. It helped you achieve your objectives.

Amy: You want the institution to thrive because you got your degree there. Even though I’m not applying for jobs at this point, it still means something to me to say, “I went to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.”

Everyone’s desire to give to his or her alma mater comes from a different place. Where did your desire to make this $75 million gift come from?

Richard: For me, it was the reputation of the school. The University of Chicago gave me so much confidence. I want to help the school maintain its great reputation.

Amy: We had great professors. A lot of them didn’t stay. Yet the institution is still there, and it continues to get stronger. So you want to keep perpetuating that growth because it’s the place where your degree came from.

Who were some professors you had as students who made an impact on you?

Amy: For Statistics, Harry Roberts. I also really enjoyed Clyde Stickney for Advanced Accounting. You wanted to succeed because you wanted to try and reach his level of academics. He was a superb accounting professor.

Richard: I had Art Laffer, and he made learning fun. The classes were entertainment.

Amy: You took Art Laffer because his class was pass-fail. [Laughs.]

What’s next for you?

Richard: We like the fact that we’ll be coming to every graduation.

Amy: Yes, we will get to meet all of the Wallman Scholars. That is exciting for us.

—By Brent White