Richard O. Ryan was raised on a farm in downstate Illinois and spent his career in the agribusiness industry, primarily in agricultural seeds. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Quincy College in 1964 and his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1966.
After graduation, he became an officer in the US Army and served in Vietnam. Following initial employment with Armour & Co. and the Chicago Board of Trade, Ryan earned a master’s degree at Stanford University's Food Research Institute in 1979, the year he joined DEKALB Genetics as an M&A manager.
He became president and chief operating officer of DEKALB in 1990. DEKALB was acquired by Monsanto in 1998 and for the next four years, Ryan served as vice president in global product management, overseeing worldwide seed operations. Since retirement in 2002, Ryan has served as consultant and is involved with numerous philanthropic activities.
“The wide range of insightful and socially relevant analyses that this group of economists has generated…is testimony to the vitality and quality of this Chicago initiative.” —Richard O. Ryan, MBA ’66
His exposure to markets and price issues in the developing world has encouraged his strong interest in the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory. In his remarks at the inaugural dinner honoring Gary Becker, Ryan noted that “the wide range of insightful and socially relevant analyses that this group of economists has generated, most of which have policy implications, is testimony to the vitality and quality of this Chicago initiative.”