Donald Bowman, class of 1950, always credited his Wittenberg education with saving his life. Not long after graduating from Wittenberg with a B.A. in business, Bowman was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve during the Korean War.
“He was on a boat over to Korea to fight on the front lines,” said Andy Bowman, Donald’s son. “On the way there, they needed some people. They were starting a prisoner-of-war camp on Okinawa. They needed people with an education – anyone with a college degree, business-type background – to help run this prisoner-of-war camp….Next thing you know, instead of [being] on the front lines of the Korean War, he’s helping set up and run a prisoner-of-war camp on Okinawa.”
The recently established Donald Bowman ’50 Endowed Fund for Business & Economics reflects Donald’s deep gratitude and desire to give back to his alma mater. Funds may be used for materials, student trainings and workshops, curricular and co-curricular continuing education, guest speakers, events and programmatic operations, as well as faculty fellowships, professional development, and staff support.
Following his service as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, Donald earned an MBA in management from New York University and worked for many years as a manager and vice president with American Standard in Elyria, Ohio, and later as vice president of the Technicare Division of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical in Solon, Ohio. Before retiring in 1993, he was employed as comptroller at Argonaut Great Central Insurance Co. in Peoria, Illinois.
Andy recalls that as an executive with Johnson and Johnson during the Tylenol scare of 1982, in which seven people died from taking cyanide-laced Tylenol, his father urged his fellow executives to be honest with the public in its handling of the crisis.
“This was not a popular stance, but he always believed in doing what’s right,” Andy said. The Tylenol scare has since become a case study in how to address significant business issues.
Donald “was a numbers guy” who loved economics, cards, and the stock market. Years before his death in 2004, he invested some money that he designated for Wittenberg through his estate plan. That small investment grew exponentially over the following decades, resulting in a substantial gift for his alma mater.
“We are very grateful for any gifts, but endowment gifts are especially nice because we can more easily plan for ongoing needs,” said Rachel Wilson, associate professor and chair of the business and economics department.
An endowed fund is a permanently invested fund that meets Wittenberg’s financial needs in perpetuity. The endowed fund generates an annual distribution that supports Wittenberg’s mission through the donor’s expressed intent.
Endowed funds not only provide continued support but also ensure growth opportunities.
Wilson said a good example of this type of growth is an exciting new program being launched this fall, the Business and Economics Leaders program. Students accepted into the program are guaranteed a seat in a business or economics first-year seminar and will be ensured an academic advisor in the department. Students will have the opportunity to help plan and promote a lecture series, participate in hands-on learning experiences, and engage in mentorship programs with alumni and peers.
These types of initiatives provide amazing experiences for students and staff and would not be possible without private support.
At Wittenberg, Donald was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, serving as treasurer, vice president, and president, and also was active in the Interfraternity Council, debate team, student council, Blue Key Club, and played tennis. He married Mary Jean Cole in 1955, and together they had two children, Andy and the late Nancy Bowman Sauer. His brother Robert H. Bowman was a member of the class of 1956.
Donald “always felt that the college experience he got at Wittenberg really got him ready to get out in the real world,” Andy said.
“I just remember him always reminding me of the importance of an education, especially going to college. Once you have that degree, no one can take it away.”
For more information about endowed gifts or how you can leave a legacy for Wittenberg through your will or other planned gift, please contact the Office of University Advancement at (937) 327-7430.