Dr. Barbara Bowers, PhD, RN, FAAN was a School of Nursing faculty member for 37 years. She started as an assistant professor and ended her career as a professor and the School’s associate dean for research and sponsored programs, and Charlotte Jane and Ralph J. Rodefer chair. Her research focused on care of older adults and the workforce that provides care for them, including family caregivers, paid caregivers, certified nursing assistants, nurses, and others who care for people who are older and/or permanently disabled. Bowers also founded the School of Nursing’s Center for Aging Research and Education (CARE) to bring together researchers, clinicians, community members, educators, and others committed to improving aging and building the skills and capacity of those who care for older adults.
Now in retirement, Bowers continues to mentor PhD nursing students as a professor emerita at the School. She serves as the chairperson of the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Collaborative, a national not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for its members to discuss diverse perspectives, policies, regulations, and environmental trends that affect post-acute and long-term services and supports. She also serves as an associate editor for The Gerontologist, the official journal of the Gerontological Society of America.
The Bowers Fellow
In 2021, the Bowers Fellow was established in recognition of the legacy Bowers has created as a nurse educator, researcher, and philanthropist. The Bowers Fellow is the newest giving level within the Bunge Society, and it honors and thanks those who join Bowers in creating their own nursing legacy by including the School of Nursing in their estate plans.
We sat down with Dr. Bowers to ask her about her experience adding the School of Nursing to her estate plans.
ForwardNursing: Can you tell us about the gift that you and your husband Ian have made to the School of Nursing, specifically the one that you’ve included in your will, and what it will be used for?
Barbara Bowers: We’ve thought long and hard about this as most people do about what will happen to their resources when they’re no longer here. We wanted to leave something that would allow researchers, clinicians, and teachers to continue doing the good work in care of older adults in particular. So, we decided to eventually leave all of the resources that we have in our estate to the School of Nursing. A lot of this [process] was thinking about how to make the gift be used in a general realm of an area that we were interested in, but not to tie the hands of the people who would be making those decisions about how to use it in 20 or 30 years into the future. The way we decided to do that was to talk more about what’s important to us, what our values are, and not to say it has to be used [in a specific way].
We’d like this to be used for faculty development in [the area of aging and care for older adults]; helping students who are struggling and maybe have fewer resources than others; and for continuing development of CARE because I don’t think this integration of teachers, clinicians, community members, and researchers is a common thing. [But] everything needs resources to run and nobody wants to pay for operations, so…if it needs [to be used for] basic operations to keep [things] going, that’s fine.
FN: How were you and Ian introduced to estate planning and that it was viable option to make an impact at the School of Nursing?
BB: My parents did a lot of giving so I saw that as I grew up. I [also] remember there was someone who came from the UW Foundation several years ago to the School of Nursing before we moved into this building who was talking about helping people give to things that will make them feel really good. They said that giving needs to be set up in a way that it’s as helpful for the donor as it is for the recipients, and I think that’s really true — to be able to think that what you have earned and worked for over the years is going to be used for a long time to come, to support things that are important to you, that you value even though you’re not going to be here to see it is a gift to me and my husband. We have three children who are going to be getting something, obviously, from our estate for their lifetime. Part [of the estate] will go to the university and part to them as a trust fund where they will get a certain amount every year…and then [the rest will] go to the university.
FN: Can you tell us a little bit more about your experience establishing this gift, the process, and what you learned through it?
BB: I think it was really helpful to talk through it with people from the Foundation who were gentle, they were not heavy-handed. I mean, basically this was our decision to do whatever we wanted; they were very accommodating but gave us information that was important about how to structure this and that’s when we came to a decision [to] just say what’s important to us and hope that whoever is making decisions in the future will take that into consideration. I think understanding and looking at how it’s given out, which is the four and a half percent a year that gets generated from the gift and I guess that’s no matter what the income is on the fund. So, to understand how that’s done was helpful. It was an easy process; they were very helpful and as I said not at all heavy-handed. We felt supported, we didn’t feel rushed, we didn’t feel pressured…I think they were very good at being helpful but not pushy.
FN: What advice do you have for others considering making a gift to the School of Nursing?
BB: It feels nice; I think it’s rewarding, certainly for the donors…I know I’ve said this several times but just be flexible and be clear [about] general preferences but don’t make it too specific. I just think it feels really nice, so if you feel connected to the school and you had a good experience here, it’s a really nice thing to do.
“I think you just can’t… unless you’ve seen it, you can’t appreciate the incredible impact of even a small gift; you know, a gift that allows an undergraduate student to go to their first conference and show a poster and have people come by and be really interested in what they’ve done. I mean, this is what inspires people to go on in their education, to feel really good about the profession that they’ve chosen…those gifts are just crucial. So big or small, I would encourage people to donate and enjoy.” —Barbara Bowers
FN: The School of Nursing has a big milestone coming up in 2024 as we celebrate our centennial anniversary. In your opinion, how has philanthropy impacted the last 100 years to help us obtain the success we have now, and how can alumni and donors make an impact on the next 100 years of nursing?
BB: I don’t think everybody is aware of how much impact a gift can make when it’s used for things that are not the basic operating costs. They’re usually supplements, whether it’s for students to be able to continue to stay enrolled or to have a decent quality of life, or for faculty to continue their research or develop better educational programs. When I think of, for example, the Schulte gift, as long as I’ve been here it’s been crucial in terms of bringing in visitors that were really important for the professional development of students and faculty, for helping new assistant professors get going on their research, for sending students to conferences where they get inspired and excited about things.
I think you just can’t… unless you’ve seen it, you can’t appreciate the incredible impact of even a small gift; you know, a gift that allows an undergraduate student to go to their first conference and show a poster and have people come by and be really interested in what they’ve done. I mean, this is what inspires people to go on in their education, to feel really good about the profession that they’ve chosen…those gifts are just crucial. So big or small, I would encourage people to donate and enjoy.
It’s wonderful if you can do it while you’re still here — instead of just a legacy gift — where you can see the impact. I had a brother-in-law who said, “Giving with a warm hand instead of a cold hand.”
Create Your Legacy
If you’d like to learn more about including the School of Nursing in your estate plans or other forms of giving, contact our Development Team!
Director of Development
Associate Director of Development