Dr. Beth Bowser has led a life of education and service since she graduated from Reinhardt in 1968 – dedication and accomplishments that have earned her the 2017 Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award.
“Being named the Distinguished Alumna of the Year is a great honor and one that was totally unexpected,” Bowser said. “It also is humbling, especially when I look at the list of past recipients and what they have accomplished in their lives and how they have supported Reinhardt. To be included in this group truly is surprising. And, there are no words that adequately express my appreciation for this award. At least I haven’t found them, yet! Maybe one day I will.”
Dr. Bowser, a retired member of the Permanent Deacon Order, was honored at the Spring Alumni Day luncheon held in the Bannister Glasshouse March 25.
Janice Fuller, the incoming Alumni Board of Governors president, recalled Dr. Bowser’s accomplishments at Reinhardt as she introduced her at the Spring Alumni Day luncheon.
“While a student at Reinhardt, Beth served as an editor on the Cherokee Phoenix staff, was chosen to be a member of Phi Theta Kappa national honor fraternity and was chosen to be in the prestigious Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges,” Fuller said. “Even though Beth physically left the campus of Reinhardt, Reinhardt has always remained a part of her life.”
Dr. Bowser came to Reinhardt in 1966 and has been an active member of the Alumni Board of Governors for 18 years. She was president from 2009-2011. She currently lends her knowledge and expertise as a member of the Reinhardt Women’s Leadership Program executive board.
Reinhardt has changed greatly since the two years Dr. Bowser spent on campus about 50 years ago – the two-year college moved to university status and the student body has significantly grown with the increase of program offerings.
“Reinhardt is a growing and vibrant campus,” she said. “But even with its growth in so many areas, it still retains a simple beauty and an inviting atmosphere. Reinhardt remains a caring community and a great place to pursue an education.”
While Dr. Bowser lends her knowledge and expertise to help fulfill the university’s mission, her mark can be found in artistic form on campus. The stained glass eagle that hangs above the fireplace in the Bannister Glasshouse was something she created and donated to the university in 2008. Her creative work also can be seen in a garden bench, handcrafted of glass and concrete, in the garden between the Glasshouse and Hill Freeman Library. Dr. Bowser donated the functional piece of art to the university in 2009.
Dr. Bowser says paying it forward is a way she can pay back what she received at Reinhardt, from scholarships and work-study opportunities, to a lifetime of memories.
“I share my time, energy and resources, doing whatever I can to contribute to the continuation of Reinhardt’s legacy and ensuring that other young men and women have the opportunity to experience this special place,” she said. “To all of the other alums and friends of Reinhardt who are sharing their time, energy and resources on behalf of Reinhardt, I applaud you and say thank you for what you are doing. It really does take all of us to keep this place and its legacy moving forward.”
Dr. Bowser was born in Atlanta and grew up in Canton. After graduating from Reinhardt, she continued on at Tennessee Wesleyan College (now University) and then the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She earned her doctorate of education with a focus in higher education administration from the University of Akron (Ohio).
She has spent more than 45 years in the ministry through the United Methodist Church serving in local churches, on the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church Council on Ministries staff and as a writer and curriculum field representative/consultant for The United Methodist Publishing House.
Her higher education experience is plentiful, serving almost 20 years in various positions at Mount Union University, including dean of Office of Adult Studies, Summer School, Summer Programs and Continuing Education. Dr. Bowser also has served as research associate and coordinator of private college/university programs for the Institute for College and University Teaching, a consortium of the 16 public universities, 56 community colleges and 39 accredited private, colleges/universities in North Carolina. Dr. Bowser also has served as program director for the Associated Colleges of the South, a consortium of 16 private liberal arts colleges/universities in 12 southern states.
She enjoys creating stained glass and kiln formed glass art. She has been the owner of Glass Treasures since 1982.