ISU President Al Bowman announces his retirement citing health concerns

By Audrey Williams

December 3, 2012 Updated Dec 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. --  After a 34 year career at Illinois State University, President Al Bowman announced Monday that he is retiring.

"It's my dream job, but it comes with a cost. The schedule is very demanding, it's not uncommon for me to work 80 hours in a week," said President Bowman.

Dr. Al Bowman began his career at ISU right out of grad school. He spent 17 years as a faculty member then got into administration.  For the last 9 years, he has served as the University's President. Now, citing health reasons, he has decided to retire earlier than he had expected.

"I had surgery, major surgery, a couple years ago," he said. "I'm being medicated; I'm in reasonable shape, but I felt like the time was right."

Dr. Bowman said as he approaches his 60th birthday this was a difficult decision, but says the university is in a good place.

"I derive a great deal of pleasure out of everything that's involved in this job. But I want to leave at a point where I'm very effective, where I'm still healthy and where I can live a normal life afterward and I think this timing is right," said Dr. Bowman.

Students we spoke with at ISU said President Bowman is highly liked and respected throughout the campus and community.

"I was kind of devastated," said ISU Senior Darrien Doss. "I don't really know President Bowman, but I know he's done a lot of good things for Illinois State University."

"When I was involved he came to every event we asked him to. He was very responsive and I think he was very interactive with the students on campus, so I'm going to miss him," said ISU Senior Kristen Stringfellow.

Associate Professor Craig Blum said that respect continues amongst the majority of the ISU faculty, "He made sure in a time of fiscal crisis and uncertainty that the university was on stable footing. He continued to work the faculty and the provost to build us into a stronger academic university."

Dr. Bowman said, "It makes me feel very, very good to know that the campus respects my work and that they're drawn to what I'm trying to do."

The board of trustees will begin the search for a new president right away. Dr. Bowman said he will stay until someone is hired and hopes that will be by this summer or the beginning of the next school year.

"What I'd like to do is help that president get off on the right foot and help them in the transition," he said.

"Although this is a sad day for the University community, I respect Dr. Bowman's difficult decision," said Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael McCuskey.  "His leadership has left this institution in a great place, and we are positioned for continued success moving forward."