Arkansas Tech University elects first woman as president

by The City Wire staff ( 9 views 

Dr. Robin Bowen was on Tuesday (April 22) unanimously elected the new president of Arkansas Tech University, making her not only the first female to lead ATU, but also the first female to lead a public, four-year university in Arkansas.

Bowen, a Missouri native who is now serving as a vice president at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, was elected the 12th ATU president during a special board meeting on the south lawn of the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center on the Russellville campus.

Bowen, executive vice president and provost at Fitchburg State University (Mass.), will assume the office of president at Arkansas Tech on July 1, 2014. She will succeed Dr. Robert Brown, who will retire after 21 years as Arkansas Tech president on June 30, 2014, and hold the titles of president emeritus and distinguished professor of economics at ATU effective July 1, 2014.

Founded in 1909, Arkansas Tech University serves more than 11,000 students on its campuses in Russellville and Ozark.

Arkansas Tech was named one of the five fastest growing public master’s degree-granting universities in the United States by The Chronicle of Higher Education in the printed edition of its “Almanac of Higher Education 2013” published on Aug. 23, 2013.

Included in the more than 100 programs of study offered at Arkansas Tech are the five most popular among college freshmen — business, engineering, the physical and biological sciences, the social sciences and teacher education.

“I am both humbled and honored to be standing here before you being named the 12th president of Arkansas Tech University,” said Bowen before a crowd of several hundred students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members on Tuesday afternoon. “I want to thank the members of the search committee and the members of the board. You did a beautiful job with the search.

“I also want to thank President Brown and his wife, Jill,” continued Bowen. “You have been very gracious and I really appreciate everything that you are doing to help make this transition a smooth one. They have truly transformed this campus during their 21-year tenure, and I promise I will do everything within my power to continue that tradition of excellence.”

Bowen joined Fitchburg State University in June 2011 as vice president for academic affairs.

Her achievements at Fitchburg State have included leading a university-wide strategic planning process, increasing financial support for faculty scholarship, working with department chairs to develop a procedure for data-driven decision making and increasing the diversity of both the faculty and the student body.

Bowen also instituted programs that reached out to first-generation college families and increased retention among students with identified socioeconomic barriers to higher education.

Her track record in academic innovation at Fitchburg State includes facilitating the development of new programs in chemistry and game design. She collaborated with faculty to revamp developmental mathematics on campus and participated in an effort to develop the Common Community Read program to serve both the institution and the surrounding community.

Bowen added the titles of executive vice president and provost at Fitchburg State in July 2013. Her additional duties in that role have included representing the president in various external and internal activities, participating in local, state and national legislative affairs and reorganizing the administrative structure such that Fitchburg State now has four academic deans who oversee the academic departments.

Prior to her time at Fitchburg State, Bowen worked in administration at Donnelly College (Kan.), where she was interim provost and vice president for academic affairs; Washburn University (Kan.), where she was vice president for academic affairs; and Rockhurst University (Mo.), where she was dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bowen has held faculty appointments at Texas Tech University, the Kansas University Medical Center, Rockhurst University and Washburn University.

A native of Carl Junction, Mo., Bowen earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas. She received her doctorate in higher education administration degree from Texas Tech University.

Bowen and her husband, Doug, are parents of three children: daughters Alexa and Brynn and son Brock.