Many faculty go beyond the normal expectations to give back to their institutions, from teaching students outside the classroom, to mentoring current and past students, or conducting impactful research to bringing in grant money to their departments and universities. But some—like Distinguished Professor Chris Bowman—go above and beyond by making significant, long-term investments in the future of their departments.
With the generous donation of a portion of their shares of patent royalties, the Bowman laboratory, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and CU Boulder are creating a new endowed faculty position: the Barbara, Cheryl and Clair Bowman Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The position honors Professor Bowman’s parents who inspired and enabled him to become a Chemical and Biological Engineering faculty member.
"Having watched numerous other faculty give back to CU in various ways through the years, I was inspired to find a way to create something that would have a lasting impact on students, faculty and the university, and simultaneously recognize the great debt I owe my parents for their sacrifices on behalf of their children," Bowman said.
Inspired by his father, who has a PhD in education, Bowman has always sought excellence in both research and education. In addition to numerous awards for teaching excellence, Bowman’s research career has been successful in numerous ways, including 28 (and counting) issued patents, mostly secured in collaboration with Venture Partners at CU Boulder (formerly the Tech Transfer Office). In 2012, Bowman licensed one of those patents to 3M, and with great effort by 3M, this patent has gone on to revolutionize polymeric dental technology and practice in the years since, especially how certain classes of cavities are filled and restored.
At the time of licensing the patent, Bowman collaborated with the Chemical Engineering department chair, the engineering dean and chancellor to set aside a portion of the royalties to a holding account reserved for creating an endowed faculty position. Recently, enough funds have accrued for the creation of this position.
For faculty, endowed positions create a support structure that allows them freedom and flexibility to pursue their research.
“Endowed positions are incredibly valuable tools that we can use to bring world-class faculty to the department,” said Charles Musgrave, Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to partner together with Professor Bowman and Chancellor DiStefano to create this new endowed position and to hire an excellent new faculty member who will be a great influence on our students and colleagues. We greatly appreciate Barbara, Cheryl and Clair Bowman for being the kind of people who would inspire their son to name an endowed position after them.”
The department recognized Bowman for his gift on July 7 in front of his friends, family and colleagues. During the naming ceremony, Bowman and his brothers spoke about the support that they received from their parents throughout their lives, and how appropriate it is to honor Barbara, Cheryl and Clair with this endowed position, thereby creating a legacy of support for generations of scientists yet to come.
“This type of gift is unusual and creative, which is no surprise, given that it was a Chris Bowman idea,” said Matt Young, assistant dean of advancement. “We appreciate his generosity in thinking about the university during the licensing process for his invention. This new endowed position feels particularly special, given the history and legacy that it represents.”
This endowment is yet another example of how faculty and alumni give back to help create a brighter future generations of students, and will advance CU Boulder’s position as a world leader in soft materials research.