Duke University trustee Jack O. Bovender Jr. and his wife Barbara have established a bequest of $25 million to support Duke's Fuqua School of Business, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and School of Nursing, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Wednesday.
Fuqua's Health Sector Management (HSM) Program and Trinity College will each receive $10 million from the Bovenders' estate, and the School of Nursing will receive $5 million.
"Jack and Barbara Bovender have been longtime Duke friends and supporters," said Brodhead. "This extraordinary commitment, which extends their generosity and leadership to so many areas at our university, will help ensure that Duke will continue to set the standard in educating students to tackle complex problems, such as those facing the health care industry. We are deeply grateful for the Bovenders' ongoing devotion to Duke and its students."
The HSM Program at Fuqua is the oldest and largest health management program among top U.S. business schools. Duke has educated professionals in the administration of hospitals, health systems and health-related organizations since Duke Hospital opened in 1930. A Master's of Health Administration was introduced in 1962 and offered until 1986, when core courses were moved to Fuqua.
The HSM Program was introduced into Fuqua's MBA curriculum in 1991. Over the past decade, the program has grown from an enrollment of about 20 students to about 400, and there are more than 1,500 program alumni.
"The fundamental health care questions of quality, access and cost are more important than ever," said Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding. "With a rapidly changing global landscape, the scale of the challenges and opportunities associated with these questions is unprecedented. The Bovenders' planned gift will be incredibly important in helping Duke and our HSM program shape the answers to these questions."
The Trinity College of Arts & Sciences is Duke's liberal arts undergraduate college. About 80 percent of the university's undergraduate students are enrolled in Trinity College.
"Flexible gifts like these make a critical difference in our ability to invest in the kinds of innovative programs that set the educational experience at Duke apart," said Laurie Patton, dean of Arts & Sciences. "The Bovenders' generosity will help us ensure that we continue to provide a superior liberal education to undergraduate students even as we advance the frontiers of knowledge in the 21st century."
The Bovenders are making the $5 million gift to the School of Nursing in honor of Barbara, who was a head nurse at Duke Hospital when she and Jack married, as well as in honor of Jack's mother, brother and daughter-in-law, who are all registered nurses. More than 700 students are now enrolled at the School of Nursing, the largest number in the school's 80-year history. The school offers master's, Ph.D. and doctor of nursing practice degrees, as well as an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree to students who previously completed an undergraduate degree.
"Nurses are playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of health care, and Duke's School of Nursing has a strong tradition of preparing both outstanding clinicians and nurse scientists who can lead innovations for the future," said School of Nursing Dean Catherine Gilliss. "The Bovenders' support recognizes the contributions of nursing and will help us continue to lead."
Jack Bovender earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1967 and a master's degree in hospital administration in 1969, both from Duke. He began his career in hospital administration in 1969 as a U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va. He worked in the health care industry for 40 years before retiring in 2009 as chair and chief executive officer of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), which owns and operates 164 hospitals and 106 freestanding surgery centers in the United States and Great Britain.
Institutional Investor magazine named Bovender the "Best CEO in America" for health care facilities in 2003, 2004 and 2005; in 2007, he received the American College of Healthcare Executives' Gold Medal Award for his career-long contributions to the health care professions. He also received in 2007 the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship from the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, given to executives who have worked to improve the quality of life for people in their own neighborhoods and far beyond.
"Duke has played an important role in my life, and I've stayed connected to the university since graduation," Bovender said. "It's rare for a single university to be able to offer a world-class education in the liberal arts, in business and in the delivery of quality health care. Supporting Duke through this bequest is a way to give back to the university that provided me with such a strong educational foundation. Through this gift, Barbara and I want to help pave the way for future students to take advantage of all that Duke has to offer."
Jack Bovender has been a member of the Duke Board of Trustees since 2007. In addition to being the board's current vice chair, he is a member of its executive committee, chair of its audit committee and vice chair of its business and finance committee. He also sits on Fuqua's Board of Visitors, and is a former member of the Divinity School Board of Visitors, former chair of the Divinity School's Capital Campaign Committee, and former member of the Duke Annual Fund's Executive Committee.
The Bovenders have a long history of supporting Duke, including the establishment of scholarships for minority students in the HSM program. Bovender Terrace, outside the Divinity School's Refectory Cafe, was named for Jack Bovender in recognition of a gift HCA made in his honor to support construction of the school's 2005 addition -- the Westbrook Building.
Bovender was born in Winston-Salem, N.C. Both he and Barbara attended high school in King, a town in Stokes County, North Carolina. Today, they live in Nashville. Their son Richard received an MBA from Fuqua in 2008.