Building a Better Future for Nursing Education
When approaching his work as a general contractor, Theodore. G. "Bud" Mahas long has heeded the words of former Chicago Bears all-pro tight end and head coach Mike Ditka: "Success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal." That mantra, along with many 70 hour work weeks contributed to a prosperous career that has spanned more than four decades and the founding of three firms. Today, Bud Mahas Construction, founded in 1982, is building high-rise structures and institutional projects throughout the Western United States.
A milestone of Mahas' career was construction of the first high-rise on the University of Utah Campus: the College of Nursing. Completed in 1969 by his then firm Skyline Construction, the building gave the college a prominent home on the medical campus while expanding opportunities for faculty and students alike. In the words of College of Nursing alumna Judith Jensen (MS, 1975), "The new building was like landing on another planet. It was a new and exciting location, and it fit with the work we all wanted to do."
The building was the foundation for a longstanding partnership with the College of Nursing. Mahas and his wife, Barbara, soon began awarding nursing student scholarships and through the annual Health Sciences Scholarship luncheons the couple was able to connect with the students they'd helped. "The students have always been so appreciative of the opportunity to earn their education from the College of Nursing," Mahas says. "It never fails to impress me when I think of all the University of Utah has to offer."
Chase Peterson, M.D., University president from 1983 to 1991, recognized how deeply connected Mahas felt to the College of Nursing. "People give for a variety of reasons, but the cause must have personal resonance and be a project with which they are proud to align themselves," he says. During an overseas trip the two took in 1989, Peterson began speaking to Mahas about cementing the couple's legacy with a planned gift to the College. Mahas jokes that the "subtle" approach worked. In 2004 Barbara and Bud created a $1 million planned gift in the College of Nursing, which will ultimately establish the Theodore G. (Bud) and Barbara S. Mahas Endowed Chair in Nursing.
In December 2009, 40 years after Mahas' construction firm completed the College of Nursing building, Mahas and Dr. Peterson revisited the site, which is now undergoing a $24 million renovation, to observe how the space is being reconstituted to meet the needs of nursing education for the next 40 years. The project, which will be completed in July, will exceed the criteria of the State of Utah High Performance Building Rating System while meeting the University's goals for sustainable design and energy efficiency. Water-use reduction, construction-waste recycling and indoor environmental quality have contributed to the project's eligibility for LEED Gold certification. "Building construction and nursing education have both changed significantly over the past four decades," Dr. Peterson observes. "And yet, in many ways, their core principles remain the same." Mahas echoes his sentiments. "It still takes two things to get a job done: attitude and effort. Success of any kind is the result of concern and hard work."
According to Dr. Peterson, who now serves on the College's development board, the same can be said for the art of building long-term relationships with donors that can lead to planned gifts. "It is important to find that moment in a person's life when they've met the needs of their family, their career is secure and they want to do something meaningful," he says. "Bud has always been someone who sees an opportunity, does something about it and makes the world a better place as a result. Along with Barbara, he realized nursing is the fabric that holds the health-care community together, and their support over the years has helped bring this to light. Their planned gift will be a lasting tribute to their leadership, generosity and affinity for The U."By Katie Schrier College of Nursing