This month's Rogers Report is taking a different shape! We recently celebrated a momentous occasion, and I want to share a story that I believe illustrates what we do at Bowling Green State University.
It started on June 4, 1954. A young woman walked across the commencement stage on University Hall Lawn, earning an education degree. She had a great student experience and aspired to be a teacher. Her name was Ellen Bowen.
A year later, on June 5, 1955, a young man walked across the same commencement stage with the same hopes of teaching in the classroom. He had met his future Falcon Flame at a fraternity-sorority mixer and was ready for life after college. His name was Bob Thompson.
The couple did begin as teachers, but after Bob's service in the Korean War as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, he and Ellen started a business and an amazing journey began.
Throughout their lives, Bob and Ellen have had a steadfast belief in giving back to their employees, to their communities and to education.
Anyone who knows Bowling Green State University knows the impact of the Thompsons. The hub of our student life, the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, bears their name. They have generously given to scholarships to support our active military and veteran students and the President’s Leadership Academy.
Bob and Ellen have recently significantly expanded their financial commitment to support students from working families with lower income who might not be able to afford higher education.
Beyond their financial support, they have also shared their time and served their alma mater. In recognition of their unparalleled engagement, the University awarded both Bob and Ellen honorary doctorates and, in 2016, our prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Last month, Bowling Green State University named the historic heart of campus the Bowen-Thompson Quadrangle in honor of our most generous philanthropists. Not only is it our most iconic space on campus with the backdrop of University Hall, it is the space where it all began at commencement in 1954 and 1955.
The Thompsons have done more than their part for our University. Their transformational support has had, and will continue to have, a positive impact on thousands of students. It’s incumbent upon BGSU to continually ensure our degrees provide students the ability to control their destiny and create a life on their own terms.
Bob and Ellen are two extraordinary people whom I greatly admire. They are humble, thoughtful, caring and loyal to their alma mater. More importantly, they are role models for all of us, and dare I say beacons for what it means to live a meaningful and productive life. They are truly changing lives for the world.
Rodney K. Rogers Ph.D.