In the late fall or early winter of 1985 a very important questionnaire graced the desk of every Dean whose school was a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The purpose of this survey was to determine the level of interest in having a conference designed to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to identify common problems in the fiscal affairs of nursing schools.
Even then the undercurrent of the present managed care environment could be felt by these academic nursing leaders. Although the Deans gathered every spring and fall to discuss numerous topics, they realized that there was a need for their business officers to also have a forum for gathering knowledge and developing networks. The interest was high enough that the AACN scheduled the first conference for business officers of nursing schools in May, 1986. The theme of the conference was "Networking for Business Officers of Nursing Schools" and the acronym used was BONS. Can you imagine that! Forty-six business officers from across the country made their way to Washington, D.C. for the inaugural conference.
The actual organization began to come together at the second annual conference, also held in Washington. Jerry Otzman (Wayne State), Pat Hall (Utah), Rudy Gomez (U of Texas-San Antonio) and Dan Junior (Yale) met over breakfast on March 27, 1987 to discuss the formal organization of the business officers from the schools that made up the AACN. (Jerry and his Dean, Lorene Fischer, and Pat and her Dean, Linda Amos, comprised the first informal Planning Committee.) It was agreed that continuation of the group was worthwhile. The matter was discussed with all in attendance at the final conference session that afternoon. Attendees agreed that they wanted to continue to have annual conferences and left Washington with a mandate from Jerry Otzman to reflect on what the group should look like and what goals it should have.
During the 1988 meeting held in Washington, D.C. in late April, a contest was held to name the group. Joanne Dubar from Syracuse University was the winner and the group had a name, Business Officers of Nursing Schools (BONUS). After this meeting, at which the membership whole-heartedly endorsed the concept of an independent organization, a Structural Committee was formed to develop the structure by which we would govern the group. All regions of the country were represented on the committee. Dan Junior, Yale, was Chairperson. He was joined by Richard Etheredge, South Carolina; Colleen Cummins, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Pat Hall, Utah. The Committee worked very hard to devise a structure to propose to the Deans at the semi-annual meeting in July.
The structure was presented to the Deans by Barbara Redman, Executive Director of AACN and with some minor changes was approved. The next step was to present it to the membership at the 1989 annual meeting in Atlanta. The structure was voted on and passed. BONUS was born.
It was very symbolic that as the group took its first steps away from Washington (Atlanta was the first meeting held outside of D.C.), it also took its first steps away from being just another AACN sponsored conference. Since that formative year in 1989 BONUS meetings have crisscrossed the nation trying to bring the annual conference to the backyards of all member schools of the AACN.
To paraphrase the BONUS Purpose Statement, the purpose of the organization is to enhance the skills of and network among the people who work in the administrative management of the nation's nursing schools. To that end BONUS strives each year to achieve that goal by offering information sessions and numerous networking opportunities at our annual meetings.
Jerry Otzman had been the driving force behind the BONUS formation and, appropriately, he was voted the first BONUS President for 1989-90. Jerry passed away in 1991 and the group established the Jerry Otzman Founders Award, given bi-annually to a member of BONUS for meritorious service.