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Raymond Bowen

Scientist turned college administrator Raymond Cobb Bowen was born September 19, 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. Growing up in the Elm Haven public housing projects, Bowen’s parents, Raymond Curtis Bowen and Lucille Cobb Bowen, were frustrated in their attempts to gain a higher education and wanted more for their son. He attended Baldwin and Winchester elementary schools and graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1952. He earned a B.A. in zoology in 1956 from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. in biology from the University of New Mexico in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in parasitology and biochemistry in 1966. From 1956 to 1959, Bowen served in the United States Army.

Beginning his professional career in post doctoral research at Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois (1966-67), Bowen was an assistant professor of biology at Cleveland State University in 1968 when black student and community leaders called for black college administrators at the school. Bowen, with student support, accepted an offer to become assistant to the president and then dean of developmental programs at Cleveland State from 1968 to 1971. At LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York, Bowen was hired as associate professor of natural sciences in 1971, but within the same year was made associate dean of faculty and then in 1973, he became dean of academic affairs. In 1975, Bowen accepted the post of vice president for academic and student affairs for the Community College of Baltimore. In 1982, he was appointed president of Shelby State Community College in Memphis. Back at LaGuardia Community College, Bowen served a joint appointment as president and professor of natural and applied sciences from 1989 to 1999. His two priorities at LaGuardia were multiculturalism and economic development. Bowen spearheaded collaborations with The Dominican Republic, China, South Africa, Columbia and the United Kingdom. Retired in 1999, he served as visiting professor at the Morgan State University Graduate School.

A prolific writer, Bowen has published widely and is in demand as a consultant on multiculturalism and diversity. Bowen serves on the board of Phelps-Stokes Fund and the American Council on Education among many other affiliations. Among his many awards is the designation by Black Issues in Higher Education as One of the Outstanding College Leaders of the 20th Century. He currently lives in Baltimore.

Bibliography:

Bowen, Raymond C. “From the Projects to the Presidency” Achieving Administrative Diversity, New Directions for Community Colleges, No. 94, June 1996

Accession Number

A2004.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/9/2004

Last Name

Bowen

Maker Category
Schools

James Hillhouse High School

Baldwin Elementary School

Winchester Elementary School

University of Connecticut

University of New Mexico

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Raymond

Birth City, State, Country

New Haven

HM ID

BOW04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

All

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes
- $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Christmas

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: All

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

Gotcha!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/19/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens (Collard), Pig Feet, Potato Salad

Short Description

Academic administrator and community college president Raymond Bowen (1934 - ) served as president of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, professor at Cleveland State University, and dean of academic affairs and president of LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York.

Employment

Ohio Wesleyan University

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Cleveland State University

LaGuardia Community College

Community College of Baltimore County

Shelby State Community College

Morgan State University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Raymond Bowen's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Raymond Bowen lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Raymond Bowen talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Raymond Bowen talks about his maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Raymond Bowen talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Raymond Bowen talks about his father's thwarted plans for higher education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Raymond Bowen describes the racial segregation in the New Haven, Connecticut housing projects he grew up in

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Raymond Bowen talks about researching his and his wife's family histories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Raymond Bowen describes growing up around a culture of higher education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Raymond Bowen describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Raymond Bowen describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Raymond Bowen lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Raymond Bowen recalls his elementary school experience in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Raymond Bowen talks about the lack of black teachers he experienced throughout his education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Raymond Bowen recalls his time at James Hillhouse Comprehensive High School in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Raymond Bowen recalls his educational influences while attending James Hillhouse Comprehensive High School in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Raymond Bowen recalls his extracurricular activities in his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Raymond Bowen recalls an encounter with a racist high school teacher who attempted to dissuade him from a career in biology

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Raymond Bowen explains how he decided to attend the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Raymond Bowen discusses the lack of black fraternities on campus when he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Raymond Bowen explains how he gained admittance to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Raymond Bowen explains how his time in the U.S. Army led to his further education and career in science

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Raymond Bowen explains how he ended up returning to the University of Connecticut for his doctoral degree

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Raymond Bowen details his post-doctoral positions at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio and Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Raymond Bowen remembers the Glenville Shootout in Cleveland, Ohio in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Raymond Bowen recounts his leaving Cleveland State University to become an administrator at LaGuardia Community College in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Raymond Bowen reminisces about his time in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Raymond Bowen remembers meeting Raymond St. Jacques

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Raymond Bowen remembers the work of Melvin Van Peebles

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Raymond Bowen recounts his fight with LaGuardia Community College's founding president, Joseph Shenker

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Raymond Bowen describes his return to LaGuardia Community College in New York, New York as its president

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Raymond Bowen talks about HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Floyd Flake

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Raymond Bowen shares the lessons he learned about public speaking from attending black churches

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Raymond Bowen recounts his hiring at Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Raymond Bowen recalls political figures he met while president of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Raymond Bowen describes his two goals of multiculturalism and economic development while president of LaGuardia Community College in New York

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Raymond Bowen details the differences between a community college and a four-year institution from an administrator's perspective

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Raymond Bowen talks about the most challenging part of being a community college administrator

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Raymond Bowen describes the most rewarding aspect of being the president of LaGuardia Community College in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Raymond Bowen describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Raymond Bowen describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Raymond Bowen describes the effects of integration on African American education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Raymond Bowen recalls his work on Carl B. Stokes' mayoral campaign in Cleveland, Ohio in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Raymond Bowen recalls famous people from Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Raymond Bowen names past presidents of Olive-Harvey College of the City Colleges of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Raymond Bowen reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Raymond Bowen describes his volunteer activities

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Raymond Bowen talks about his research into sickle cell anemia and parasitology

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Raymond Bowen talks about his books

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Raymond Bowen describes the various student populations at different higher education institutions in the Baltimore, Maryland area

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Raymond Bowen names his books

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Raymond Bowen reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Raymond Bowen shares what he has enjoyed about the process of being interviewed by The HistoryMakers

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Raymond Bowen describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Raymond Bowen narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Raymond Bowen narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Raymond Bowen recalls an encounter with a racist high school teacher who attempted to dissuade him from a career in biology
Raymond Bowen recounts his hiring at Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
When you were a senior in high school [James Hillhouse Comprehensive High School, New Haven, Connecticut], I mean what did you envision yourself doing as a career, what did you see your career (unclear)?$$(Simultaneous) I, I had no idea, I really and--I liked the sciences, I, you know, but unfortunately I didn't know any black scientists. As a matter of fact, the--where was I? I was in the--I must've been in the tenth grade, yeah, the tenth grade you took biology, the eleventh grade you took chemistry and the twelfth grade you took physics, that's the way it was set up. My teacher told me one time, he said, "You know you ought to get a shoeshine box." I said, "Well, I wanna be a biologist you know." He said, "Well they don't have no black biologists." Well he didn't say "black," he said "Negro" biologist. "You ought to get a shoeshine box", and when I got my Ph.D. I sent him an invitation. I mean, oh that--I mean oh I guess that just said it, I mean, but again, it, it, there was no such thing as black history or--and I couldn't argue with him, you know. You know I didn't know about [Charles R.] Drew and I didn't know about, well I, I don't wanna--[Dr.] Caldwell McCoy [Jr.]. You ever hear of Caldwell McCoy? Caldwell McCoy was the guy that, oh, oh he was a top scientist for NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration]. He died, but he did so much, he had a Ph.D. in physics and a Ph.D. in mathematics, and that--he was one of my [Beta Sigma Gamma] Fraternity brothers in, in college [University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut], but I mean, I'm saying there were guys that were doing all kinds of all--but I didn't know. Growing up in Connecticut, at least people that went to black schools, they, they knew, people would tell 'em, but you go to a predominately white school, and, and they, there's no such thing as black history or black culture and all these other things and you look and you only know one black doctor in town or one black lawyer and so, so what do you know? The guy said there were no black biologists, and he may, he may have really believed that (laughter).$$He probably did, that--it's funny but you're right, you're right.$$Yeah, he may have really have believed it and it may not have been as negative as it came to me, he may, but if he didn't say "shoeshine box," "get a shoeshine box," you know, I've--but I'm saying that.$$Yeah, there's a little animosity in that remark (laughter).$$Yeah, yeah, I mean come on now (unclear)--$In Memphis [Tennesee] again, they, it was funny when I got there [Shelby State Community College, later, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Memphis, Tennessee] because they, they knew I wasn't from--well first of all it was hard for me to even--Lamar Alexander was the governor and he had told Harold Ford [Sr.] that he would have a black--'cause the black community was up in arms, they, they wanted a black community college president in Memphis because you wouldn't go get one in Nashville [Tennessee] or some of these other little towns. So Alexander promised what's-his-name that he would get a, a black person as the first president in, first black president in Tennessee, he'll be in Memphis. So I applied, I just happened to apply. I didn't know all this other stuff and it was sort of funny, the--they didn't know if I was black or white. Why? First of all you got a bachelor's [degree] and a doctorate [degree] from [the University of] Connecticut [Storrs, Connecticut], a master's [degree] from [the University of] New Mexico [Albuquerque, New Mexico]. You were a biochemist and a parasitologist. Nothing, they looked they didn't see anything that said Alphas [Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity] or the Kappas [Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity] or the Omegas [Omega Psi Phi Fraternity]. Naw' this guy, dude gotta be white, dude gotta be white, but he's a, again he's, he's--thing looks good, we're going to invite him down. So before they invited me the chancellor of the system called my president here in Baltimore [County, Maryland at Community College of Baltimore County] and you know, "Well, how is [HistoryMaker] Dr. [Raymond] Bowen and all of this?" And then finally he said, "Well let me ask you a question if you hope you don't mind. So he--Catada [ph.] was my president, he said, "By the way is Ray Bowen black or white?" And so the--he's the president, my president just said, "Well last time I saw him he was black, I don't know what happened in the last hour or so," you know or something like and the guy said, "oh man that's good we got a president now." 'Cause and that's how I you, know when I'm down for interviews and things but it was a lot of fun--