By Karyn Brown
A solid education in the College of Arts and Sciences, and friendships made along the way, provided this Cleveland, Mississippi, native what he needed to have in both a successful military and business career.
Robert Bowen, a 1963 graduate of Mississippi State University, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history. Bowen expresses a deep gratitude for the education MSU provided him. “Without my MSU education, nothing else would have been possible. A solid liberal arts education taught me empathy, critical thinking, gave an appreciation of the larger world and helped provide the foundation for all that I would later learn that was career-specific,” said Bowen.
Upon graduation, Bowen served as a captain and aviator for the U.S. Army. He flew in nearly 700 combat missions in South Vietnam. After active duty, Bowen obtained his M.B.A. degree from Emory University in 1968.
His business career includes being a partner with Arthur Andersen & Co. being in charge of its Mid-South Audit and Business Advisory practice. He is now retired from service on three NYSE-listed public companies and chair of their audit committees.
When asked about his fondest memory of his time at MSU, Bowen says, “the crisp fall mornings when classes had resumed; leaves were changing colors, a new education year was starting and an opportunity to renew friendships with those I hadn't seen over the summer.”
Although difficult to pick one favorite class, Bowen said those taught by history professor Dr. Harold Snellgrove are at the top of his list. Bowen said, “He was a true educator and cared about his students and their lives.”
When thinking back to his college days, Bowen said, “The college experience is about so much more than just classes. Ethical values are tested and molded, life-long friendships are made and career choices are developed. Looking back, it was the most important four years of my life.” He added, “Be a sponge – soak up everything possible from your classes, learn from those with whom you associate, for you shall not pass this way again.”
It would be no surprise that Bowen’s greatest mentor has MSU roots. Rod Wade, a partner at Arthur Anderson, is a 1960 graduate of MSU. “Ron taught me commitment, excellence of client service, dedication to our people and balancing work with other interests,” said Bowen.
Bowen currently resides at his family farm outside Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he enjoys several lifelong interests and hobbies. “Aviation has been a big interest since I was a young child and I continue to fly. Upland hunting was taught me by my father and I work now to improve the Bobwhite quail populations on our property, not for hunting but because they are such an important part of the history of the land and of Mississippi.”
When asked about his greatest success, Bowen quickly turns the conversation from work to what he says matters the most. “Career success is important, but pales in comparison to the impact we can have on the lives of others.”
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