Giving back to the future

Driving the public good


Why do people give to the College of Arts and Sciences? Three donors share their stories.

(College of Arts & Sciences, December 2015)

In the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be a challenge to pause and remember why we give. For Nancy Wick, it’s her love of the arts. For Robert Barnes, his wife’s passion for travel and literature. For Patrick O’Hara, a fascination with cosmology. Their generosity—and the generosity of thousands of other donors to the College of Arts and Sciences—makes a world of difference in the lives of faculty and students, now and in the future.


June Barnes had a deep love for literature. When she passed away, her husband of nearly 60 years, Robert Barnes, decided to honor her with a gift to the UW that reflected her lifelong passion for literature and travel. His generous bequest created the Wings to London Scholarship in the Department of English, which helps cover travel expenses for English majors enrolled in the department’s Spring in London program.

“Our parents always encouraged each of us to go beyond our own boundaries, to get out of our comfort zone with different cultures and ideas,” says Julie Morrison, Robert and June Barnes’ daughter. “We weren’t rich, but they knew the importance of travel and the impact it would have on our lives.”

Through their gift, the Barnes family left a legacy with lasting impact for UW students. The scholarship recipients will never know June and Robert Barnes—Robert passed away before the gift was finalized—but Morrison meets the recipients of her parents’ scholarship. “If this endowment helps students start their own explorations,” says Morrison, “we are thrilled!”


Patrick O’Hara (Ph.D., Biochemistry, 1980) has had a lifelong interest in physics, cosmology, and philosophy. He and his wife reached out to the UW Departments of Physics and Philosophy to create two lecture series, one in Physics and one in the Philosophy of Physics. “We think that the coming century poses enormous, unprecedented challenges to humans and other species on the plant,” says O’Hara, “and telling the community the story of the cosmos is a way to inspire people to deal with those challenges.”

O’Hara and his wife wanted to tell the story of science in a way that explores not just the mechanics of quantum theory but also the resulting shifts in perspective. “The ‘philosophical’ stakes of physics and cosmology are enormous, and touch on things like the possibilities of supersymmetry, extra dimensions, and the idea that we live in but one universe in a multiverse,” says O’Hara. “Discoveries since the early 20th century have radically altered our view of time and space. These discoveries have practical uses and significance to our view of the universe every bit as radical as realizing we’re revolving around the sun. They affect all of us, our mindsets.”

O’Hara’s gifts bring in experts from both philosophy and physics to share their passions with UW students and the community. “I am motivated to share my inspiration with students throughout the UW, whatever their area of study,” O’Hara says. “Scientific achievements are our pyramids, our cathedrals. They are our most spectacular and profound edifices. Our donation is an investment in the future.”


“Quite simply, I can’t imagine a life without the arts in all its forms,” says Nancy Wick (PhD, Speech Communication, 1997), a former UW staff writer and a donor to the Invest in an Actor program, which supports graduate students in the School of Drama’s Professional Actor Training Program (PATP). “Invest in an Actor called to me because it supports actors at the beginning of their careers, when they need it most.”

Thirteen years ago, PATP started Invest in an Actor to help fund the Showcase Audition Tour, through which third-year students showcase their talents for industry professionals in Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles. When Wick began giving two years ago, the School matched her with PATP actor Rudy Roushdi, and thanks to her support, Roushdi will have a leg up in the industry.

“In a market like LA or NYC, most actors spend years knocking on doors trying to just get into the room,” says Roushdi. “The funds will help me as I begin to travel to LA and New York in April to audition. It will be invaluable for me.”

But Wick and Roushdi’s relationship is about more than the money. They have developed a strong mentorship between them. They started off meeting for coffee so Wick could understand what the program was like; now they talk about school, life, and Roushdi’s work. “She is a friend and a mentor and a person I hope to stay close with even after I graduate,” says Roushdi.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed watching him develop as an actor,” says Wick, who attends all of Roushdi’s shows and has even observed his teaching. “He graduates in June, and I can’t help wishing he’ll stay in Seattle, though of course I will try to keep in touch and wish him success wherever he goes. I’m happy to have helped in some small way.”

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These stories are your stories, as donors like you give to programs that are meaningful to them. Gifts can be made in honor of a stellar professor or in memory of a loved one. They can support outstanding faculty, students, or programs, either in a specific department or across the College. In addition to outright gifts, giving can be part of an estate plan or a pledge. To learn more about making a unique gift to the College, please visit


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