Meet the Thompsons

The impact of Robert ’55, ’06 (Hon.) and Ellen Bowen ’54, ’06 (Hon.) Thompson on Bowling Green State University is difficult to measure. 

The Thompsons earned their degrees in education from BGSU, where both were very active in student life. Upon graduating, the Falcon Flames married and worked as teachers. After Robert’s service to his country as a pilot in the United States Air Force, he and Ellen started a family and an entrepreneurial journey. They founded and grew several businesses, and were known for generously giving to their employees and communities.

With a deep commitment to the power of education to change lives, the Thompsons have focused on supporting K-12 as well as higher education. Their gifts to Bowling Green State University include funding for the construction of a student union, named the Bowen-Thompson Student Union in their honor. They also established the Thompson Scholarship in the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy. In 2014, Robert and Ellen created the Thompson Working Families Scholarship Program, expanding it in 2019, to provide significant financial support to thousands of promising students.


“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.”

The Thompsons’ leadership includes serving as board members of the BGSU Foundation as well as honorary co-chairs of the University’s first comprehensive campaign. In appreciation of their commitment to serving and supporting students, the University presented the Thompsons with honorary degrees and, in 2016, the University’s Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest honor.

Of all the things that good luck has allowed us to do for BGSU, we have received much more than we ever gave.

-Robert Thompson ’55, ’06 (Hon.)

Updated: 03/03/2023 04:43PM