After a career spanning 34 years at Illinois State, the last nine as the University’s 17th president, Al Bowman announced December 3 he will step down following the search for a new president.

“I have asked Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael McCuskey to convene a special meeting of the Board to formally begin the process to search for the next president of Illinois State,” Bowman said.

In a letter sent to faculty, staff members and students, Bowman explained that while he had originally planned to retire in four years, lingering health concerns and “long and emotional discussions with my wife, Linda, my daughters, Laura and Natalie, and a few close colleagues and friends,” prompted his decision to leave sooner.

“Several years ago, I underwent a significant surgical procedure to address a serious medical issue,” Bowman said. “Although my current condition is good, I have been advised that as I approach my 60th birthday, stepping away from a high-pressure, seven-day-a-week position is the best thing I can do for my long-term well-being.”

Bowman also said the transition to a new president will occur while the University is at a high point.

“Our administrative leadership is solid and, despite the most challenging economy in memory, Illinois State is in a financially enviable position,” Bowman said. “Our belief in shared governance and commitment to shared decision making is a model for other universities to follow. I have no doubt that our faculty, staff, student body, administration and governing board will continue to steer Illinois State on its unique path of excellence.”

Bowman joined Illinois State in 1978 as a faculty member in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology (now Communication Sciences and Disorders). He was appointed chairperson of the department in 1994. 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.

“Although this is a sad day for the University community, I respect Dr. Bowman’s difficult decision,” said Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael McCuskey. “His leadership has left this institution in a great place, and we are positioned for continued success moving forward.”

McCuskey said he will convene a special meeting of the Board of Trustees in the coming days to discuss transition plans and begin the search process.