A Healthy Gift

Former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis (B.A. ’69) donates to the school bearing his mother’s name to strengthen nursing education

When it comes to hard work and dedication, Ken Lewis (B.A. ’69) had a superior role model in his late mother Byrdine. A divorced mother of two, she supported her family with a career as a bedside nurse that lasted 46 years.Byrdine Lewis’ name has graced Georgia State’s nursing school since her son made a major gift to the school in 2003. This past summer he honored her legacy once again with his biggest gift yet, a $5 million pledge to the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions to support endowed professorships and faculty awards.


Senior nursing student Joshua Esezobor holds a portrait of Byrdine Lewis. Esezobor is a second-generation nursing student – his mother, Cherri (M.S. ’12) is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Atlanta.

“I know firsthand how hard nurses work and how important they are to their communities,” said Lewis, who worked his way through school, earned his finance degree at Georgia State and eventually became president, chairman and chief executive officer at Bank of America. “The many excellent caregivers, therapists and scientists who’ve earned degrees from Georgia State are making that legacy stronger every day. I’m proud of what they’re accomplishing, and I know my mother would be, too.”

Margaret C. Wilmoth, dean of The Lewis School, said his pledge will strengthen the school’s ability to attract and retain top-quality faculty at a time of critical change in the health care industry.

“Graduates in the health professions are called upon to do more now than ever,” Wilmoth said. “We are preparing the leaders in nursing, nutrition, physical therapy and respiratory therapy for the 21st century. That’s not a responsibility we can afford to take lightly. Mr. Lewis’ gift will help us ensure that our students get the most up-to-date and comprehensive education possible, which will make a tangible difference in our nation’s health.”