(Photos by Brian Brakebill and Lyndsie Schlink, ISU Marketing and Communications)
By Zach Dietmeier
NORMAL - Illinois State University students surprised President Al Bowman with a boisterous rally outside his office on the campus quad Friday.
Hundreds of students gathered in front of Hovey Hall, calling "Bowman! Bowman!" until he popped his head out of a window and came down the stairs to joined them.
VIDEO: Watch Bowman's speach to students (below)
Bowman thanked the students and told them he was relieved with his decision to retire after 34 years in higher education. He spoke casually with the crowd after his wife, Linda, introduced him as "the love of my life" and "the best" college president.
"This is an incredible experience. It's been a roller coaster of a ride this week, I wish I could retire every damn week!" he said.
The event was organized by Student Body President Andy Manno. Students received word in a campus e-mail that began circulating on Thursday evening.
Bowman announced this week he will retire after nine successful years as ISU's leader, but he intends to return to the classroom next year. He said health concerns were the reason behind the unexpected announcement. He had planned to retire in four years when his new contract ends.
The Board of Trustees plans to hold a special meeting after graduation on Dec. 15 to begin the process of searching for a new president. Members hope to name their new hire by the fall.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Whisman contributed to this report.