Remembering Professor Emeritus David Bowen

Long-time cherished colleague and former Professor of the Year Dr. David Bowen passed away on March 7. Our community is diminished by this loss.

Dave Bowen was a towering presence at Saint Mary’s College from the moment he joined our community in the 1970s. He came from the California Public Employee Relations Project at the Institute of Industrial Relations at UC Berkeley and was recruited to the College to launch the first executive MBA program in northern California. He developed the curriculum and taught in the program part-time and became a full-time faculty member in 1983.

Dave Bowen was awarded Professor of the Year in 2015 and gave a memorable lecture that captured his keen sense of humor and great insight, which is viewable here.

His teaching has been described as exemplary and empathetic, and he was a mentor to many of the faculty in SEBA and across the College, who he worked tirelessly to support.

The impact that Professor Bowen had at Saint Mary’s is reflected in the warm remembrances of his colleagues who describe him as kind hearted, a terrific colleague, a great listener, generous, and accommodating, always giving colleagues the benefit of the doubt, friendly, and jovial. Jyoti Bachani describes his profound legacy at Saint Mary’s this way: “Even if you have never met Dave Bowen, you know his work, as he was the pioneer who built the first MBA program for working adults in Silicon Valley. He built a successful enterprise, despite claiming to not like balance sheets, because he really liked management and cared for people. He led by example, by always giving his best.” 

His commitment to our students was unparalleled. Countless SEBA colleagues credit Dave Bowen as the one who taught them how to be student-centered with his unassuming approach and unquestionable passion. Bill Lee expresses this eloquently, “Almost everyone who has taught in the Graduate Business programs has stood on his shoulders.”  

Exceptionally generous with his time, colleagues remember hearing Professor Bowen repeatedly comment: ‘How can I help you?’ ‘Call me anytime,’ ‘I know what you mean,’ and ‘I've had that same problem…’ His office door was always open, and he exemplified Saint Mary’s charism by treating everyone with kindness, courtesy, and respect, plus genuine friendliness and warmth. As another colleague puts it, “The gentle charm and humor by which his wisdom strengthens the institution makes him a real treasure for everyone at Saint Mary’s.”

Professor Bowen fostered a culture of transparency among faculty, listened empathetically, considered all points of view, and patiently worked to bring all sides together with compassionate and generous accommodation. His charm, humor, and wisdom enabled him to bridge divides as he embodied a commitment to work productively with all of his colleagues.

Berna Aksu shares these poignant sentiments: “Dave was an extraordinary man, inspiring role model, and mentor who embodied everything that Saint Mary's stands for and had a profound impact on everyone at Graduate Business. He was well-known, admired, and respected not just in Graduate Business, which he helped build, and SEBA, but throughout the College among faculty, staff, and students alike. This is a tremendous loss for our community.”

A beloved colleague and caring mentor, he will be greatly missed.