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Bovender pledges $25M to Duke

Jack Bovender, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and his wife Barbara Bovender have pledged $25 million to Duke, the University announced Wednesday.

The funds will be released to Duke from the Bovenders’ estate and will be distributed among the Fuqua School of Business, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Nursing. The School of Nursing will receive $5 million, and Fuqua’s Health Sector Management program and Trinity College will each receive $10 million.

“I’ll be gone when the money is used for things, but I am confident that the University will use it in the right ways,” said Bovender, former chairman and CEO of Hospital Corporation of America and Health Administration ’69. “I note with great admiration the way the programs are run.”

Bovender noted his admiration for the University and how he and his wife want ensure that their legacy reflects gratitude and a commitment to Duke.

Gifts like this one help Duke to enhance academic departments and support the faculty in ways the University would not otherwise be able to, Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton said.

“I am thrilled that the Bovenders had the vision and the foresight to understand the ways in which liberal arts remains at the center of a 21st century education and why Duke continues to provide the best liberal arts education possible,” Patton wrote in an email Wednesday.

Bovender said he chose to give back to Trinity College because an undergraduate liberal arts education is the core of any university. Bovender came to Duke on a W. N. Reynolds Memorial Scholarship, an academic and need-based gift, and said he is now paying that scholarship forward.

“You can’t directly pay the people who provided that experience to you back,” Bovender said. “The way you say ‘thank you’ is [by doing] that for people in the future.”

After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in psychology, Bovender received a master’s in hospital administration. That degree has since morphed into the Health Sector Management program, which offers a certificate to MBA students. Bovender’s career has centered around hospital administration, and he said this gift reflects the impact of his education on his life.

“I’m grateful for Bovender and his family for their affirmation of the program and Duke’s programs around the world,” said Dr. Kevin Schulman, director of Health Sector Management and the Center for the Study of Health Management and professor medicine and business administration.

Bovender’s son, Richard, completed the Health Sector Management program in 2008.

Everything Bovender has learned about hospitals, he said, he has learned from listening to nurses. When Bovender married his wife Barbara, she was working as head nurse at Duke Hospital. Additionally, Bovender’s mother, brother and daughter-in-law are registered nurses. The $5 million gift to the School of Nursing will be made in honor Bovender’s wife, Barbara.

“Nurses are an increasingly important role in the provision of health services, so it’s important that the school be supported,” he said.

Dean of the School of Nursing Catherine Gilliss said she has enjoyed working with Bovender and his wife during his time as a Trustee.

“Although I am not yet sure exactly how the generous gift will be used, the gift adds to our visibility and sets an example to other donors,” Gilliss wrote in an email Wednesday.

In addition to contributing to the Duke Annual Fund each year, Bovender noted the importance of his family’s decision to make a significant financial commitment to the University.

“[Duke] made all the difference in my life professionally and shaped the way I think about life,” Bovender said. “It’s important for me to recognize that.”

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