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Why We Give: Wills and Judy Ryan

Wills and Judy Ryan

Wills and Judy Ryan give to Covenant without regret or hesitation because they believe Covenant is making an impact for God’s Kingdom. They are grateful that three of their four children and two son-in-laws have benefitted from Covenant’s education, spiritual formation, and community. Starting with their eldest daughter's time at Covenant to later serving on the board, the couple thoroughly enjoys being part of the Scots community.

Before Wills became the fourth generation in his family’s business, (he is now the CEO of Ryan INC. Southern), he attended Boston College. It was there that he became a believer through Campus Crusade. Judy attended Western Illinois University and similarly became a Christian through Campus Crusade. The two met in high school and stayed in touch, eventually dating and marrying after grad school.

While earning his MBA at the University of Miami, Wills continued in his involvement with Campus Crusade. He later became a Campus Crusade staff member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wills loved the ministry work, but he decided to join the family construction business. He and Judy returned to Florida and have lived there since.

The Ryans first learned about Covenant when their oldest daughter, Kelly, started the college search. The Ryans really liked Covenant based on the website, but they wanted to visit campus in person. After that trip, Kelly knew that Covenant was where she wanted to go. “After coming to visit and talking with people at Covenant, we had an even more positive impression of the campus,” Wills remembers.

When Kelly brought her Covenant friends home to Florida for spring break, Wills and Judy had the chance to open up their home and interact with students. Wills says, “Covenant became an attractive environment for our younger daughters, Becky and Caitlin, as they met and interacted with current students through their older sister.” In turn, Becky and Caitlin attended Covenant and also brought their friends home. Wills and Judy enjoyed the many years of spring breaks and vacation getaways because they actively saw the impact Covenant made in the lives of their daughters and their friends.

Wills and Judy watched their daughters’ spiritual growth as they thoughtfully asked theological questions at home. The couple appreciates that Covenant provides an environment for students to grapple with theological issues, spiritual distinctives, and then process them with peers and knowledgeable faculty. In Wills’ words, “Our daughters’ time at Covenant is when they made their faith their own.” All three daughters are active in local churches, raising their children in Christian homes, and making sacrifices in order to send their own kids to Christian schools. Wills credits Covenant as an influence in why his daughters value these things.

In addition to spiritual growth, Covenant challenged Kelly, Becky, and Caitlin academically. Wills and Judy have seen how the academic rigor prepared their daughters for their current careers. Covenant taught a variety of skill sets, in and outside of the classroom, that helped the girls stand out in the workplace.

Giving generously became a part of Wills’ and Judy’s lives once they became believers. Over time, they’ve learned that giving helps them revere God, and as they’ve been blessed financially, they’ve increased their giving. Wills notes that a handful of resources, including books and their church, helped grow their understanding and practice of giving. “Sacrificial giving is a big part of the Christian life, mainly because where your treasure is, that is where your heart is. If you want to seek first His kingdom, you need to give Him your first fruits.”

In addition to financial resources, the Ryans also give their time to Covenant and other ministries. Judy currently chairs the board of Hope Pregnancy Center, a local Florida ministry that provides guidance and counseling to young pregnant mothers. She also leads a Bible study through their church and has served on several other boards, including the Sheridan House.

Giving to Covenant is important to the Ryans because they feel blessed to have experienced the Covenant community through their daughters. They give back so that more students can learn in an environment with both spiritual growth and academic rigor.

Wills also remarks, “I am afraid of what is being taught at other universities. The foundation of education has changed significantly. It is more a source of propaganda than an environment to share differing ideas.” Because of this, Wills and Judy invest in Covenant, recognizing that the college has not wavered in its Christian focus. “Christ centeredness changes the whole discipline of education. Instead of an agenda to persuade students to think a certain way, Christ-centered education creates an environment of critical thinking about a diverse array of perspectives while remaining rooted in one foundation - Christ.”

In Wills’ words, “The students who attend and study at Covenant are the hope of our culture today. They will be the ones to make an impact on future generations.”


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