|The end of the Bowman era|
|Written by Logan Zimmerman, Daily Vidette News Editor|
|Monday, 03 December 2012 20:37|
In a surprising series of events, ISU president announces his retirement
"I think I'm the only one who's happy about my news today."
ISU President Al Bowman’s assessment wasn’t far off after he announced on Monday he would retire after 34 years at Illinois State University and nine years as the University’s president.
Despite describing himself as in good physical condition, Bowman cited concerns related to a previous medical issue and his long-term health involving his age and work-related stress, according to an email he sent out to the student body explaining his decision.
" … I’m not on death’s door, but I realized in a very demanding job I probably have a better chance of maintaining my health if I can dial back a little bit," Bowman explained.
"What I didn’t want to do is work at 80 percent and try to do the job with less effort," he said. "There’s too much going on, and the University needs a president that is completely engaged."
Word of Bowman’s decision to retire came as a surprise to most of the student population, especially after extending his contract with ISU an additional four years in October.
However, he said he arrived at his decision after "long and emotional" discussions with his wife, Linda, his daughters, Laura and Natalie, and several friends and colleagues, according to his email.
Bowman extended his thanks to the University as a whole, the location where he met his wife and raised his two daughters, and called ISU "the center of his life."
"While I had planned to retire four years from now, I ultimately decided my highest personal priority must be my health and my family," he said in his email.
"I think the right time to go is both when the institution is doing well and stable and when I’m making good, positive contributions, and it felt like that time was now," he added.
Bowman also resolved any suspicions or possibilities of underlying issues regarding his decision to retire.
"I want you to know that I am not leaving Illinois State to take another position, nor are there any underlying University issues set to emerge in newspaper headlines," he added.
When asked which aspects of his presidency he felt most proud of, Bowman cited the national prominence of ISU, especially the national ranking of the institution, the rise of student profile and becoming one of the two most selective public universities in the state and the change of the University’s footprint.
"No one has made this much progress in these nine years as Illinois State … we are one of the few public universities in this state that I think will be strong, stable and ready to continue to make progress," Bowman said.
Additionally, Bowman paid homage to faculty and staff at ISU for his success, noting their contributions to grant productivity, scholarly productivity and rankings of academic programs over what he calls "an extremely positive nine years" for them.
He also addressed the positive position the University is currently situated in financially, and he believes the current employees of the University will be able to successfully transition after his departure.
"Although serving as president during this chaotic fiscal period has brought with it a great deal of stress, my joys have far exceeded my anxieties, and I look forward to living in this community and staying closely connected to our vibrant campus environment."
Despite stepping down as president, Bowman said he will continue to support ISU and the people and organizations who make up the University.
"I am grateful for your friendship, counsel and inspiration," he said. "My love and respect for Illinois State and its people is profound … I will continue to be a proud Redbird and hope to make Illinois State University an important part of my life for many years to come."
Town of Normal Mayor Chris Koos received a personal phone call from Bowman, an individual he has known for nearly 30 years, earlier in the week before he made his retirement plans known to the public, but Koos admitted he was still taken back by the decision.
"I think the University is losing a talented, dynamic leader, but [Bowman] has set the groundwork to excel for those next in line," Koos said.
With nearly a decade of presidency at the University, Koos also said Bowman’s loss will be felt, but he still believes the University and its ties to the Town of Normal will continue to thrive after his departure.
Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael McCuskey will convene a special meeting of the Board to formally begin the search process for the next university president, according to Bowman’s email.