Gift to Name Psychology Building Reflects Couple’s Dedication to the University

Trustee Nick Somers and his wife, Barrie, both AB ’84, met on the Danforth Campus, and two of their children are alumni.

Since their graduation, alumni Barrie and Nick Somers have returned to Washington University frequently for Reunion, to visit their daughters, and to attend Board of Trustee and other leadership group meetings.

Trustee Nick Somers and his wife, Barrie, both AB ’84, have deep roots at Washington University. They met at the much-beloved and now-defunct Rathskeller student club more than 37 years ago. They have two daughters who also graduated from the university. Additionally, Mrs. Somers’ father, B.A. “Dolph” Bridgewater Jr., has been associated with the Board of Trustees since 1983, and her mother, Barbara, has served on the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts National Council for three decades.

“We’re a WashU family. We’re locked in,” Mr. Somers says. “Barrie and I started dating when we were at the university, and our daughters cemented our loyalty to the institution. Since our daughters’ graduations, we have intensified our engagement, and we contribute however we can.”

The couple recently made a significant commitment to the university for long-range capital needs. In recognition, the Psychology Building—which houses the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences—will be named Somers Family Hall.

“With this gift, Nick and Barrie Somers are extending a strong family tradition of leadership and support for Washington University,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton says. “It is fitting that their relationship with the university will be recognized in an enduring way.”

Mrs. Somers earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and she says her studies have enriched her life. “I have always loved learning about what people are thinking and what motivates them. I used my education in psychology when I worked in advertising, and I continue to use it to this day.”

The couple’s daughter Payton, AB ’13, enjoyed her first-year psychology course so much that she majored in the field as well and now works as a mental health therapist in San Francisco. Their daughter Caroline “Kiki,” AB ’16, lives in Los Angeles, where she is studying to be a health and wellness counselor. William, the youngest of the Somers children, is majoring in economics and statistics at Williams College in Massachusetts.

Like his wife, Mr. Somers was inspired by his Washington University education. After earning his undergraduate degree in economics, he received an MBA from the University of Chicago and launched a successful career in the private equity industry. He currently is managing partner and founder of SV Investment Partners, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, and principal owner and executive chairman of International Decision Systems in Minneapolis. The Somers Family Economics Suite in Seigle Hall was named in 2013 in recognition of the couple’s previous gift for facilities in Arts & Sciences.

Staying involved with their alma mater is a priority for Mr. and Mrs. Somers. “We belong to three generations of family members who have been intimately engaged with the university,” Mr. Somers says. “It has always been an obvious and logical choice for us to help advance its mission.”

The couple made their first gift to the university a year after they graduated, and they have supported scholarships in Arts & Sciences for two decades. They have served on the Greater New York Executive Committee for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University and the Parents Council. Mr. Somers also is a member of the Arts & Sciences National Council and the New York Regional Cabinet, and Mrs. Somers recently joined the Sam Fox School National Council.

Mrs. Somers says she and her husband have enjoyed seeing Washington University evolve. “It’s been incredible witnessing the university become a leading institution for education, research, and innovation. Nick and I have memories from our undergraduate days, and having our daughters share that experience was a gift. We are excited to help the university continue to grow and excel.”