By Mike Matejka
Thank you, Dr. Bowman. (WJBC file photo)
McLean County owes a lot to Dr. Al Bowman, who recently announced his retirement from ISU’s Presidency.
He’s renovated the campus, he’s lifted faculty morale, made students proud and put the university on the national academic map.
There is another thank you we need to give this good man. And that is for all his outreach to our community. A large university like ISU can quickly became a world onto itself. Students are sometimes looked upon as problem children, filling downtown bars and hosting loud apartment parties. We forget how much our two universities and our community college enhance our quality of life and our local economy.
A university president can stay very busy on campus, going to committee meetings and university events. Dr. Bowman did more than that. He served on charity and community boards. He was seen at non-university events. He was accessible to the larger community.
I’ll just share one example that makes me personally proud every year. Under Dr. Bowman, ISU sends their band and student athletes to the Labor Day Parade. It really gives the parade a kick when that big red marching machine comes down the street. And Dr. Bowman is with them every year too, greeting the crowd. Bringing the band to a west side Bloomington parade sends a powerful message. ISU is an integral part of our community. It is no small expense to send that band anywhere; the students are sacrificing a three-day weekend when they could be home. Instead, ISU starts the school year with a great message to Bloomington-Normal – we are part of you and proud of it.
I’m sure Dr. Bowman will continue to do great things and I’m sure his ISU legacy will continue with his successor. Not only does the university owe him a great thank you, so does McLean County. Thank you Dr. Al Bowman.
Mike Matejka is the Governmental Affairs director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council, covering 11,000 union Laborers in northern Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. He lives in Bloomington with his wife and daughter and their two dogs. He served on the Bloomington City Council for 18 years, is a past president of the McLean County Historical Society and Vice-President of the Illinois Labor History Society.
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