Arkansas Tech dedicated an entire week for the inauguration of President Bowen, a strong showing of support never before given at the university. Ten months after she became the first female president of a four-year Arkansas institution, her commemoration week featured events meant to build interest leading up to her formal inaugural speech at Tucker Coliseum on Friday.
During her speech, she said distributive leadership, grit, collaboration with the community and social justice were the four areas she wants to accentuate while president of the university. Each facet is a part of her plan of action she plans to implement with the help of faculty and students.
Concerning distributive leadership, Bowen highlighted the importance of professors in monitoring the day-to-day implications of ideas within the student body.
“You [the professors] are also the most knowledgeable regarding how we can better do things,” she said. “Good ideas come from across the university. The vision for and the future of our university needs your expertise, your knowledge.”
When Bowen talked of grit, she focused her attention on the individual student’s application of effort and how valuable this grit is in succeeding academically and professionally. She said students and professors are partners in the educational relationship, but it eventually boils down to the students’ willingness to dedicate themselves to their studies.
“Ultimately, the passion, the perseverance and the grit must be your own,” Bowen said to the students attending. “Most of our students do have grit, but we haven’t always challenged our students to apply that grit to their studies. We need to make sure you understand that your ability to learn is not fixed. It can and it does change with effort.”
Bowen thanked the community for its goodwill toward the university but said there is still much to be done to strengthen Russellville as a whole. She talked about the development of North El Paso Avenue, and her encouragement with the constructive progress makes her confident in the community’s ability to change “that corridor [into] a cultural center that can become our town’s version of Dickson Street.”
As for social justice, Bowen said mass inclusion would be key in extending the university’s definition of diversity.
“We accept others regardless of gender, who they love and their relationship with a personal God,” she said. “We must move beyond tolerance to respect, and we must celebrate diversity in all its forms.”
It will take time to influence and alter the mindsets of those who remain hidebound to ideologies not accepting of “diversity in all its forms,” but Bowen promised to commit herself and her energies as president to take Tech to “the next level of excellence.”
The importance of the speech was marked by the audience, which included more than 1,000 people, two members of the U.S. Congress — Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Steve Womack — Russellville Mayor Randy Horton and Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson.
Now begins the actual application of her plan. Turning words into action is the only way the prospective growth Bowen seeks can happen.