Matthew and Joyce Walsh make $27 million gift to Notre Dame

Author: Dennis Brown

Blue and gold academic seal

University of Notre Dame alumnus Matthew Walsh and his wife, Joyce, have made a $27 million gift to his alma mater. In recognition of the gift, the University will name in their honor a new building for the School of Architecture.

“Matt and Joyce have been tremendous leaders and generous supporters of architecture at Notre Dame, including a gift for the renovation of our new facility in Rome and chairing our advisory council,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “This gift is simply transformative in nature. It will allow the University to take what already is a remarkable architecture school and make it among the very best in the world. We are grateful beyond words.”

The new 60,000-square-foot building will be located on the south end of the Notre Dame campus, east of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. It will provide the space necessary to accommodate the needs of a school that is considered the nation’s leading institution for the study of classical architecture and traditional urbanism and to add two new graduate programs in historic preservation and real estate development. A timeline for construction has not yet been established.

“Humane built environments and work spaces that allow humans to flourish are issues of great concern in Notre Dame’s School of Architecture — which makes the Walsh gift one of particular importance,” said Thomas G. Burish, the University’s provost. “Their generosity will enable our faculty and students to better conduct research and teach, create and share designs, and build community as they shape national and international conversations about the function and future of architecture.”

Michael Lykoudis, Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Architecture, added: “This building will allow the school to better support its current offerings to its students and the research of the faculty, but more importantly it will allow us to develop a fully integrated curriculum across disciplines of architecture, urban design, preservation and development of new and existing communities. It will provide a single platform and infrastructure to support transformational changes in the way architecture and urban development are approached in the academy and the profession.”

Matt Walsh earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Notre Dame in 1968 and a law degree from Loyola University in 1972. Joyce Walsh is a graduate of Barat College. They reside in the Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge and have three grown children, Matthew IV, Sean and Erin. Both Erin and her husband, Mike Gibbons, are 1998 graduates of Notre Dame. In addition, the Walsh’s’ son Sean and son-in-law, Mike, both earned their EMBA degrees from Notre Dame.

“Joyce and I have been blessed in our lives,” Matt Walsh said. “Over this last decade and one-half, through our involvement with the Notre Dame School of Architecture, we have become personally familiar with the world- class mission of the school, the high caliber of its leadership led by Dean Michael Lykoudis, and its wonderful faculty and student body. Our involvement with them has enriched our lives and inspired us. As a result, Joyce and I are grateful to be able to provide this gift, which we feel will help ensure the continued success of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, its faculty and students, providing highly trained architects who are grounded in the classical tradition and inspired by Our Lady on the Dome’s vision, leading the practice of architecture across our world’s built environment.”

After earning his law degree, Matt Walsh joined his family’s business, Walsh Construction, a Chicago firm that was founded by Matthew Myles Walsh in 1898. The firm has been involved in a wide range of projects, including rapid transit; highway and bridge work; educational, athletic and correctional facilities; office buildings; and wastewater and water treatment plants. It is the 15th largest contractor in the nation and employs more than 5,000 engineers and skilled tradesmen. Walsh and his brother Daniel are co-chairmen of the company.

In addition to financial support of Notre Dame, Walsh has provided counsel to the University as a member and long-standing chair of the School of Architecture Advisory Council and chair of the Advisory Council Chair Leadership Group. He is a life member of the board of trustees of St. Ignatius College Prep and a board member of Children’s Memorial Hospital. The Walsh Foundation supports arts, education, Catholic churches and schools, and social and children’s services.

The School of Architecture was established in 1898 as the first such program at an American Catholic college or university. For the past 20 years, it has put an emphasis on a classical curriculum to the point that it is considered the leading such program in the country. The urbanism curriculum is also highly regarded within the field.

Architecture offers a five-year bachelor’s degree, which includes the third year spent entirely at the University’s facility in Rome. The school also offers three master’s degree programs: a post-professional two-year master’s degree and two professional master’s degree program in two- and three-year paths.

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on September 27, 2013.