While an undergraduate studying mathematics and economics at Illinois State, Virginia Owen ’62 never envisioned she would return as faculty and make the University her home for more than three decades.
Owen completed her master’s and doctorate at the University of Illinois after graduating from ISU. She was offered a substitute teaching position in the Department of Economics in 1964.
“I stayed the second year and never left,” said Owen, who is a member of College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. She loved teaching, even in the large Capen Auditorium setting. She led students through an introduction to economics, and money and banking classes.
Her career included administrative work as well, beginning as chair of the Economics Department in 1976. She served three years before being asked to lead the college as dean.
“It was all very interesting and challenging,” Owen said. There were consecutive and deep budget cuts during her 11 years guiding the college. “The only way to get back funding was to have a new degree program, so I made sure we had a lot of new degree programs.”
Before retiring in 1998, Owen returned to the department as director of an Economics Education Program. In that role she traveled the state, training elementary and middle school teachers in ways to incorporate economic principles with minimal math. Upon leaving the department, she continued to teach a class at ISU and Illinois Wesleyan, building courses around her research interests: economics of the arts and the economics of war and terrorism.
Now fully retired, Owen remains in Bloomington where she is active in the church, enjoys spending time with her three sons and grandchild, and travels extensively. She can be reached at vlowen@IllinoisState.edu.