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MBA alum and energy leader Bob Crowell endows scholarship

Bob Crowell

Bob Crowell, MBA ’95, said both of his higher education institutions, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Illinois State University, prepared him well for his 23-year career in the energy field.  He appreciated the fact that Illinois State MBA students and the majority of his professors had practical, real-world work experience.

“The technical education I received from Rose-Hulman prepared me for the first 12 years of my career, which was focused on engineering, construction, project management and operation of various natural gas facilities at the Illinois Power Company, and my MBA from Illinois State enabled me to move from a technical track to more of a business focus,” Crowell said.

Crowell completed his MBA at Illinois State by taking night classes while working full-time at Illinois Power Company in Decatur.  He was named Outstanding MBA Student in 1995.  Crowell transferred to Illinova Generating Company, Illinois Power’s independent power generation affiliate, in their business development group, where he worked on projects throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom and Costa Rica.  Crowell was responsible for the acquisition of equity positions in five operating power plants and was in charge of the company’s North American project and business development activities.  After Dynegy acquired Illinova, Crowell moved to Houston, Texas, and developed two power plants in eastern Kentucky.  In 2001, a small wind power development company, Zilkha Renewable Energy (now Horizon Wind Energy), recruited Crowell to lead their Midwest development activities.  Horizon and their principal company, Energia de Portugal, are now one of the largest wind-power companies in the world.

“In a nutshell, the independent power business is all about creating stand-alone, multi-million dollar businesses that produce and sell electricity,” said Crowell.  “Each business/power plant stands on its own as a profit center.  The second part of my career was focused on acquiring and creating these new businesses.”

While at Horizon, Crowell frequently returned to Bloomington-Normal, where he was responsible for completion of the Twin Groves Wind Farm in McLean County, including permitting the project; customer, public and landowner relations; and environmental, wildlife and wind studies.  During one visit, he took the time to be a speaker during Illinois State’s Business Week and commented on the “truly state-of-the-art classroom facilities” in the College of Business.

Crowell said he recently took some time off to “play some golf and spend more time with my family after being on the road with business travel 50-75 percent of my time over the past 10 years.”  He is enjoying time with his wife of 25 years, Dee, and his son Eric and daughter Lynsey.  Eric will graduate in May from the University Texas in Austin with a degree in finance and attend medical school this fall at the University of Texas-Houston. Lynsey is a high-school senior who will be attending Texas Tech University to study architecture, and Dee is an 8th grade math teacher.  While spending time on the golf course and taking a mission trip to Peru with Eric, Crowell continues to ponder the next stage of his career.

“I’ve been fortunate to have achieved a level of career success that made it possible for me to endow a scholarship in the Illinois State University MBA program,” Crowell said.  “I’ve always felt it is important to give back to the programs that played a role in helping me obtain that success, and hopefully help someone else achieve goals that otherwise may not be reachable.” Crowell said his employer reimbursed 75 percent of his tuition and book costs while he was getting his MBA, but he realizes that not everyone is that fortunate.  He hopes the scholarship he endowed will help someone go back to school to get an MBA by helping ease the financial impact a bit.