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J. Steven Cowen '69: Giving Back to Bryant is "Not Just a One-Way Street"

J. Steven Cowen '69, who was recognized with Bryant's prestigious Nelson J. Gulski Alumni Service Award in 2009, remains actively engaged with the life and momentum of Bryant University. And "it's not just a one-way street," Steve says. "The feedback Bryant graduates give me and the questions they ask make me think."

After building a successful 17-year career at United Technologies Corp. and becoming vice president of finance, Steve left to found his own firm. Over the years, Steve had always planned to become involved and give back to Bryant when he retired. But a dozen years ago he had occasion to visit the campus and was moved by the impressive students and facilities. "I realized that my contacts would go away once I retired," Steve say, "and so I shouldn't wait to begin participating." Now Steve has many points of engagement with the university and serves as an inspiration for others.

Steve has recently established a generous bequest in his will to create a legacy that will support Bryant's continued growth trajectory. He is also a frequent campus visitor, regularly speaking to Bryant classes and serving as a mentor for students and young alumni who are embarking on their careers. In addition, he serves as an advisor, lending his expertise and experience to the university's student-run Archway Investment Fund. He and his wife, Lily, also support the Black & Gold Fund for Bryant Athletics.

"When I graduated from Bryant, it was like they put an invisible 'B' on my forehead," Steve says. "It becomes part of you. I am so proud of what is going on there, and I celebrate it by contributing to Bryant's future."

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Bryant University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Bryant University [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Bryant University or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Bryant University as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Bryant University as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Bryant University where you agree to make a gift to Bryant University and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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