BGSU Celebrates Naming of Bowen-Thompson Quadrangle

BGSU names historic quadrangle in recognition of Thompsons’ generosity

Bowling Green State University has named the historic heart of its campus the Bowen-Thompson Quadrangle in honor of the University’s most generous philanthropists – Robert and Ellen (Bowen) Thompson.

More than 300 students and alumni, whose lives have been changed through the Thompsons’ generosity, joined the couple and University officials to dedicate the tree-lined quadrangle in front of University Hall on May 10.

“The generosity of Robert and Ellen Thompson has had a profound, immeasurable impact on Bowling Green State University,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “Their commitment to their alma mater has influenced its physical appearance, enhanced the student experience, and has and will continue to transform the lives of thousands of students. There is not a more fitting name for the heart of our Bowling Green campus.”

Ellen and Robert met at BGSU, earning their degrees in education in 1954 and 1955, respectively. They married and began their careers as teachers before starting a family and embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. They founded and grew several businesses that were known for giving back to their employees and communities.

"Their commitment to their alma mater has influenced its physical appearance, enhanced the student experience, and has and will continue to transform the lives of thousands of students."

Their passion for BGSU and their modesty about their many contributions is best summed up by a quotation from the couple that appears on plaques identifying the space. It reads, “Of all the things that good luck has allowed us to do for BGSU, we have received much more than we ever gave."

Their generosity to the University dates back more than two decades. Gifts include support for the construction of the new Bowen-Thompson Student Union, the establishment of the Thompson Scholarship in the Sidney Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy and a military scholarship benefiting active duty service members and veterans. Robert Thompson served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Five years ago, they established the Thompson Scholarship Program for Working Families and agreed to greatly expand the program this year. The scholarship assists high-potential students from lower income families, who may not be able to afford higher education.

“BGSU embraces its responsibility to our donors and their philanthropic vision,” said Pam Conlin, BGSU vice president for University Advancement. “This transformational gift from the Thompsons ensures thousands of more students will have access to a world-class University and an education of value.”

The program is available for new freshmen, transfer students and continuing students. Students in the program receive a $5,000 annual scholarship from the Thompsons, which the University must match through additional fundraising efforts. BGSU also provides academic, financial and career counseling to ensure that students will be successful.

This fall, more than 500 students will be part of the program, and plans are underway to expand the program to more than 1,000 students annually for future years. That growth is contingent upon the University meeting its goals, which include ensuring that 80% of the program participants graduate.

In addition to performing well in the classroom, students in the program are also required to give back to their communities with a minimum of 20 hours of service each year.

“As a public university for the public good, we prepare our students to live meaningful and productive lives,” Rogers said. “The Thompsons have done more than their part. Now, it’s incumbent upon us to continually ensure a BGSU degree provides our students the ability to control their destiny and create a life on their own terms.”

The Bowen-Thompson Quadrangle is located on the west side of University Hall between McFall and Williams halls.