Dr. Robin E. Bowen outlined four areas of emphasis for her presidency during her inauguration as the 12th president of Arkansas Tech University at Tucker Coliseum on Friday.
Bowen cited distributive leadership, grit, collaboration with the community and social justice as four aspects of the Arkansas Tech culture that she hopes are strengthened during her tenure as chief executive officer for the institution.
Below, in part, are Bowen’s thoughts on those four areas of emphasis:
On distributive leadership: “Each of you, faculty and staff, are experts in your own areas. You are the ones who see the day-to-day implications of what we do and how we do things on this campus. You are also the most knowledgeable regarding how we can better do things. Good ideas come from across the university. The vision for and the future of our university needs your expertise, your knowledge. The distributive leadership model results in enhanced leadership capacity across the university and a shared commitment to improving the university so that it can be everything it can be.”
On grit: “Students, you are our partners in this educational process. Ultimately, the passion, the perseverance and the grit must be your own. Most of our students do have grit, but we haven’t always challenged our students to apply that grit to their studies. Students, you have grit. Many of you have lived lives that required you to develop grit. We must make you understand that this excellent trait you possess, many of you through hardship, will serve you well at the university. We need to make sure you understand that your ability to learn is not fixed. It can and it does change with effort.”
On collaboration with the community: “The community first gave this institution life in 1909, and it is the community that will help Tech grow. I am impressed by the abundant goodwill toward Tech. I am encouraged by the collaborative efforts of the mayor and other city and state elected officials, as well as the (Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce), in making the city, the state and the university stronger. I know that I am very fortunate to have landed in such a wonderful community. Life is good in the Arkansas River Valley, but there is still much to do. Together, we must find ways to make our community even stronger. I am encouraged by the development of North El Paso Avenue, and I hope we can all work together to make that corridor a cultural center that can become our town’s version of Dickson Street.”
On social justice: “We must continue to pursue Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of judging each other by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. And we must extend our definition of diversity and inclusion so that we accept others regardless of gender, who they love and their relationship with a personal God. We must move beyond tolerance to respect, and we must celebrate diversity in all its forms.”
The inauguration was attended by more than 1,000 individuals. It was an assembly that included two members of the U.S. Congress — Senator John Boozman and Congressman Steve Womack — a number of state and local dignitaries, approximately 250 members of the Arkansas Tech faculty as well as students, staff, alumni, community members and representatives of Bowen’s family.
Womack was among several speakers who brought greetings for Bowen. Others to offer well wishes from the podium included Jim Ed Gibson, Pope County judge; Randy Horton, Russellville mayor; Bruce Sikes, chancellor at Arkansas Tech-Ozark Campus; and the presidents of the faculty senate (Dr. David Ward), staff senate (Brandi Collins), student senate (Katie Frazier) and alumni association (Truman Hill) at Arkansas Tech.
Additional speakers included Dr. Larry Large, president of the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities; and Dr. Robert Antonucci, president of Fitchburg State University (Mass.).
The Arkansas Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed “A Commemorative Fanfare,” an original composition by Philip Parker, professor of music at Arkansas Tech. The piece was commissioned in celebration of the inauguration.
Eric Burnett, chairman of the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees, served as master of ceremonies. He presented Bowen with the Arkansas Tech chain of office immediately before her inaugural address.