BATON ROUGE – Family members of the late Thomas J. “T.J.” Moran visited campus on Oct. 15 to present a $1 million estate gift to LSU.
The gift, contributed by the T.J. Moran Family Foundation, will be evenly split among four campus programs, with $250,000 supporting each of the following: the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Manship School of Mass Communication, E. J. Ourso College of Business and College of Human Sciences & Education.
Moran passed away May 18 at the age of 84. A lifelong entrepreneur with many business ventures, he was the first college graduate in his family. Though he grew up in Chicago and earned his degree from the University of Wisconsin, Moran spent much of his life in Baton Rouge. He opened the first franchise of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in 1975 and held franchises in 11 other cities. He also successfully founded TJ Ribs, Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant and Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant, all in Baton Rouge. Moran’s immediate family holds eight degrees from LSU, and his legacy gift honors a strong family commitment to the university in the areas most meaningful to them.
Presenting the gift today were Moran’s son, Burke, along with Burke’s wife, Melissa, and their two sons, Thomas and Michael. Continuing his father’s tradition of successful restaurant endeavors, Burke owns Baton Rouge-based TJ Ribs and Tío Javi’s Fresh-Mex Bar & Grill.
The family shared, “For more than 40 years, LSU has been an instrumental part of our lives. Dad proudly watched all five of his children and one granddaughter become Tigers, with a total of eight LSU degrees earned by them. Through his connection with this wonderful institution, not only did Dad make lifelong friends, including Dale Brown, Bo Bahnsen, Robert Justis, Scott Berg and many others, but he also helped countless kids pursue their dreams by providing educational support along the way. He realized early in life that pursuing a college degree was not only key to his future success, but to others, as well. Encouraging students to obtain a college education was another way for him to stay true to his life and business philosophy to ‘make it better every day.’ We are honored that his legacy will live on through the students and programs that will benefit from this gift.”
Moran was an active community volunteer and philanthropist, with a humanitarian impact that was often behind the scenes and away from public view. His generosity extended to direct support of young people, the disadvantaged and the ill; lending his business expertise through service on various nonprofit boards and at LSU; and using his popular culinary ventures to support hundreds of fundraisers benefiting many charitable organizations. His legacy investment in LSU continues that long history of community support by celebrating his loved ones’ deep connections to campus.
“T.J. Moran was an esteemed member of our community who contributed in countless ways to the local business and nonprofit sectors,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Part of his business philosophy was a commitment to serving the communities where his restaurants were located. LSU is humbled by his generous decision to extend this commitment to LSU. T.J. Moran’s legacy lives on in the meaningful difference that this selfless gift will make in each area it supports.”
Philanthropic support of LSU fuels our success in and out of the classroom – success that continues because of donors’ generosity. Gifts fund excellence in the areas most important to donors through scholarships, facility upgrades, internships, faculty research and so much more. Visit www.lsu.edu/giving for more information or to give to LSU.