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President Al Bowman honored with Distinguished Alumni Award

President Al Bowman

Illinois State University President Al Bowman was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Illinois College of Applied Health Sciences at Urbana-Champaign in October for exceptional distinction in his career.

Bowman was one of four inaugural awardees who were presented with the award at the College’s 50th Anniversary Awards Gala.

Bowman, Illinois State University’s 17th president, received a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from Augustana College, a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Eastern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois.

Bowman was a staff speech pathologist at Veterans Administration Hospital in Danville prior to joining Illinois State in 1978 as a faculty member in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. He was appointed chairperson of the department in 1994 and held the position for eight years, while also serving as director of the Down Syndrome Speech-Language Clinic and continuing to teach a course each semester.

Under Bowman’s leadership the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, now the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, was awarded accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, faculty and staff scholarly productivity doubled and the master’s program rose in prestige to its current ranking as No. 1 in Illinois.  A doctoral program in audiology was added to the program during Bowman’s presidency, one of only five in the State of Illinois.

In the 2002-2003 academic year, Bowman left the chair’s position to serve as Illinois State’s interim provost.  He served as interim president of Illinois State from June 2003 until he was named president in March 2004. After being named president, Bowman instituted a salary enhancement plan in September 2005 to close the gap with peer institution salaries in order to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff at Illinois State University. More than $2 million has gone into that initiative even though Illinois State has seen a major downward shift in state appropriations for higher education.

Bowman also pursued funding for the renovation of the now 50-year-old Schroeder Hall, a $17.5 million project which was completed in January 2005.  He was instrumental in completing Illinois State University’s first comprehensive campaign, Redefining “normal,” which raised more than $96 million to enhance Illinois State’s position in higher education. In 2007, Bowman was instrumental in gaining approval for a new $49.1 million Student Fitness and Kinesiology and Recreation Center that will open in 2010.

An avid outdoorsman, Bowman enjoys mountain climbing, hiking, skiing and runs five miles daily. His wife, Linda (Althoff), completed undergraduate and master’s degrees at Illinois State. She is the graduate program advisor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Their daughter Natalie is a student in the University Laboratory Schools, and daughter Laura is a student at St. Louis University.