Former Illinois State president to lead state's higher-education board


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SPRINGFIELD — Al Bowman, the former president of Illinois State University, has been named executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

He replaces James Applegate, who stepped down earlier this year after only three years in the position.

Bowman, 64, will be paid $150,000 annually under terms of a contract approved by the IBHE board Tuesday.

He began his work at the agency Wednesday.

Bowman, who was president of ISU from 2003 to 2013, lives in Bloomington where he serves as president emeritus of ISU.

"The board is pleased Dr. Bowman has accepted our request that he take the helm of the IBHE at this time. He is an exemplary role model of a college educated Illinoisan, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, a master's degree from Eastern Illinois University, and an undergraduate degree from Augustana College," said Tom Cross, the chairman of the IBHE board. "His entire career in higher education has been carried out in Illinois, starting in 1978 as a member of the faculty at ISU."

The IBHE is updating its Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, and Bowman is being asked to lead the process toward development of a new plan in 2018.

"Dr. Bowman's strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, and to ensuring access to a high-quality education that is affordable and valued by Illinois' citizens sets the right tone at a crucial time in the state's higher education history," stated Cross. "Growing the reputation of Illinois colleges and universities as the first-choice for a quality postsecondary education and the development of a world-class workforce will be the Board's number one priority under Dr. Bowman's leadership."

Under Bowman's guidance at ISU, he led the university's first major comprehensive campaign, which raised more than $96 million. During his tenure the university achieved historic highs in graduation and retention rates.


Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).