Courtesy of Cornell University

Bowers' donations of over $100 million to Cornell helped fund the construction of Gates Hall.

January 26, 2024

Ann S. Bowers ’59, Notable Cornell Donor and Silicon Valley Trailblazer, Dies at 86

Print More

Ann S. Bowers ’59, a trailblazer in the world of technology and a philanthropist who donated large sums to Cornell throughout her life, died on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the age of 86.

Over three decades, Bowers donated over $100 million to the University establishing the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science — the first college at Cornell named after a woman — and helping finance the construction of Gates Hall, the current home of CIS. 

Bowers also funded the Bowers and Noyce professorships, which support University faculty in various fields. Bowers’s generosity also enabled the construction of a new academic building to house CIS, which is expected to open in 2025. 

Bowers, who was born in 1937 in Pennsylvania, studied English as an undergraduate at Cornell and earned an honorary doctorate for public service from Santa Clara University in 2000.  

Bowers spent her professional career in the technology industry, leading human resources at the Intel Corporation in the 1970s. After marrying Intel co-founder and co-inventor of the integrated circuit, Robert Noyce, Bowers left her position and began working at Apple in 1980, where she was appointed one of its first vice presidents.

Bowers is credited with playing a pivotal role in the early years of Apple, having been an expert in dealing with the notorious perfectionism of the late Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive officer. Jobs became so close to Bowers and Noyce that he often arrived at their home unannounced. 

Following the death of Noyce in 1990, Bowers co-founded and served as the board chair of The Noyce Foundation, named after her husband, an organization that sought to improve science and math education in K-12 public schools. The Noyce Foundation officially closed its doors in 2015. 

Bowers, throughout her career, was also deeply involved in Cornell’s leadership. She served as a trustee, a founding member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women and as chair of the Cornell Silicon Valley Advisors — a group that seeks to build Cornell’s business community in the Bay Area — for over a decade. In 2013, Bowers received the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, which honors alumni who have served the University tremendously. 

In a University press release, President Martha Pollack reflected on the life of Bowers, highlighting her legacy in the tech industry and her continuing impact to Cornell.

“Ann was a trailblazing woman in tech, and I was fortunate to meet her during the first year of my presidency at a meeting of the Cornell Silicon Valley advisers and learn about her fascinating career,” Pollack said in the press release. “We are deeply grateful for her devotion to and her vision for Cornell, which helped us establish one of the best computing and information science colleges in the world.”

Prof. Kavita Bala, computer science, who is the inaugural dean of CIS, further expressed her appreciation of Bowers’ dedication to the University and her career in the Cornell press release.

“Ann was a forward-thinking leader who dedicated much of her life to fostering and creating environments where technologists and innovators could thrive,” Bala said in the press release. “Her commitment to building a culture of creativity, excellence and collaboration will forever be remembered, especially at Cornell where her generosity enabled the founding of the pioneering college that bears her name.”

Bowers’ friend Rebecca Robertson ’82, who is on the Cornell Board of Trustees and Cornell Engineering Council, emphasized Bowers’ commitment to the University in a Cornell press release after the establishment of her namesake college in 2020.

“Ann’s love for Cornell, her experience during the foundational days of Silicon Valley, her commitment to education in math and science — to me this gift is a lovely coalescing of the many different strands of her life,” Robertson said in the press release. “She’s a very generous leader who cares deeply about mentoring the next generation.”

Bowers is survived by her stepchildren Margaret Noyce, Priscilla Noyce, William B. Noyce and Pendred (Penny) Noyce.