On Sept. 11, 2001, the world watched workforce training, seminars and continuing as two airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and another airliner slashed through the Pentagon. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bruce A. Bowman felt a deep personal loss. He had worked in the Pentagon only four months prior, before he retired from the U.S. Army in May 2001. Not only did he lose several of his former coworkers there, but he lost a good friend in New York, the manager of security at the WTC.
In some ways, it's as if Bowman never left military service. Granted, he's no longer jumping out of airplanes as a Green Beret or conducting major theater-level war-gaming studies for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he still applies the tactical assessment and business acumen from his distinguished 20-year military career wherever he goes.
“The Army is all about management,” Bowman said. “We manage people, budgets, resources, equipment. The Army provides extensive training to its officers. You definitely learn servant-leadership. It’s ingrained in you to take care of the men and women in your unit.
“The Army also teaches that the enemy never comes at you like you think they will, and certainly not the second time around, so you’re constantly scanning the horizon, evaluating and adapting to new threats—just like you need to do in business,” he said.
That ability to look at the Big Picture, understand the system and its components and make leadership decisions is integral to his role as the new dean of LETU’s School of Business.
Bowman oversees undergraduate and graduate, campus-based and online business programs with more than 700 students and over 50 full-time and part-time faculty members. Programs include accounting, finance, marketing, management, human resources management, aviation management, healthcare management, international business and business administration.
Since he arrived in July, Bowman has launched a corporate education partnership initiative, recognizing that LETU’s core competencies are the generation and distribution of knowledge, as well as recognizing that knowledge doesn’t have to be packaged in standard three-credit-hour courses.
“We are reaching out to industry to provide workforce training, seminars and continuing education,” Bowman said. “We scored our first victories recently when Eastman Chemical invited us to provide speakers for a leadership seminar series and when the City of Kilgore, Texas, approved $14,000 in funding for a team of LETU students and faculty member to produce human resource plans for re-engineering the city’s benefits and compensation policies.”
Prior to LETU, Bowman served as the dean of the division of science, technology and business at Northern Virginia Community College. There he oversaw one of two academic divisions at NOVA’s campus in Alexandria, Va., a school of 7,000 full- time students. His office was directly upstairs from that of English professor Jill Biden, the wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Prior to NOVA, Bowman was dean of engineering at Norwich University and director of Norwich’s Center for Innovation Leadership. As dean of engineering, Bowman established an entrepreneurship program in partnership with the School of Business, launching a new bachelor’s program in engineering management. He is currently collaborating with LETU Dean of Engineering Dr. Ron DeLap to build an engineering entrepreneurship program at LETU.
Bowman recruited Norwich’s two largest freshmen engineering classes in nearly 20
years while quintupling the annual charitable contributions to the engineering school. He
was a Fellow of the Kern Family Foundation’s entrepreneurship education network. He also led and won ABET re-accreditation of all programs.
Teaching has long been one of Bowman’s passions, both during and after his military career. “I was vice president of a Fortune 500 defense firm, but I found I was more energized by my adjunct teaching,” Bowman said. “I looked forward to my mid-week evening classes and felt drawn to full-time teaching.”
Bowman taught graduate courses as an adjunct professor at George Washington University in Washington D.C. in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, traveling to the schools off-campus program in northern Virginia, California and New Mexico. He was nominated by students as top faculty of the year.
While still in the military, Bowman taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He was an assistant professor in engineering management and systems engineering, overseeing student design projects and officer professional development program. At West Point, he was presented the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Scholastic Achievement Award.
One of Bowman’s entrepreneurial career highlights was establishing the ACE Mentor Program in Washington, D.C. Bowman is the principal founder, chief operating officer and incorporator of the nonprofit after-school mentoring program that encourages inner-city high school youths to pursue educational and professional opportunities in architecture, construction management and engineering.
For five years Bowman enlisted chief executive officers, college engineering deans, national and regional engineering and architectural design firm managers and corporate sponsors to work together to mentor these at-risk students. The program has awarded over $400,000 in college scholarships. For his work, Bowman was honored with an award from the Congressional Black Caucus Education Braintrust. Today, Bowman serves on the ACE Mentor Program board.
Other career highlights include consulting for PricewaterhouseCoopers Management and serving in senior industry positions such as the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he worked with the team that responded to the anthrax attacks on Capitol Hill.
Bowman’s educational history includes a bachelor’s in chemistry from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Operations Research from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright- Patterson AFB in Ohio and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in civil engineering, both from Columbia University in New York. When LETU Provost Dr. Philip Coyle called Bowman last December to talk about taking the reins of LETU’s School of Business, at first Bowman and his wife, Leslie, weren’t sure they were ready to be anywhere further south than Virginia.
“When we came down to visit the campus, something just grabbed us,” Bowman said. “We felt like we were supposed to be here. How can you say ‘no’ if you feel God’s hand is moving? You can’t stand in the way of that.”
Leslie is the new director of LETU's Library and Learning Resource Center, a position similar to what she was doing at NOVA. The Bowmans relocated to Texas in the middle of the summer, putting them geographically in the middle of their two sons: one is married and lives in California, conducting post- doctorate work at Berkeley; the younger recently graduated from Norwich University and is living in Maryland.
“Being in the military is definitely process- oriented like academia, but it’s also very mission- oriented,” Bowman said.
Written by Rachel Stallard
Photos by Emily Rogers
LeTourneau University NOW Magazine