Tom Bowen can make a claim probably few others at the university can make: he has been in every building on campus-and he knows many of them almost as well as he knows his own house.
That’s because he’s spent much of his 33-year career helping decide how the university’s 367 buildings are used, and who uses them.
Bowen, who will retire from UGA March 31, currently is responsible for space management and facilities planning in the division of finance and administration, where he’s been associate vice president since 2001.
He also assists with real estate acquisitions, helps ensure compliance with the university’s physical master plan and environmental safety policies and coordinates activities inside the vice president’s office.
Previously he spent 18 years in the academic affairs division as assistant to the vice president, then advancing to assistant vice president. One of his major duties was assigning and managing classroom, laboratory and storage space in campus buildings.
“I’ve been in every building on campus at some point, including some that are no longer here,” Bowen says.
“I doubt anybody is more familiar with our facilities and how they’re used for instruction, research and administration.”
Bowen, who has worked directly with six vice presidents, can also make another claim not many people can match. He’s spent his entire professional career at UGA, beginning in 1971 when the late Billy Hudson hired him in the old campus planning office right after he graduated with a business administration degree. Later he moved to the institutional research and planning office, where one of his chief tasks was analyzing data to help make decisions about allocation of space and other campus resources.
After receiving a master’s degree in adult education he joined the academic affairs office in 1983. To earn his doctorate in higher education in 1990, he wrote a dissertation on UGA’s physical growth from 1785 to 1990.
Hank Huckaby, senior vice president for finance and administration, says Bowen has made a lasting mark on the university.
“Tom has made many important contributions in his various roles that have helped significantly to strengthen the university’s instructional, research and service missions,” Huckaby says. “His uppermost goal has always been to advance the interests of our faculty, staff and students, and we are very fortunate to have had the benefit of his wisdom and dedicated service for 33 years.”
Specializing in space planning and facilities management has put Bowen in some unexpected situations. During UGA’s Bicentennial in 1984-85, while helping arrange campus visits by such dignitaries as then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and the president of Hungary, he found himself dealing with Secret Service agents. He also helped plan many of the bicentennial celebration’s memorable signature events.
More recently, he helped create the university’s long-range physical master plan and was on the committee that developed the high-tech Gwinnett University Center near Lawrenceville.
Bowen says one of his most satisfying tasks has been helping renovate and restore historic campus buildings.
Bowen has earned a national reputation for his expertise on campus planning and space utilization. He has written or contributed to publications dealing with classroom design and usage and has spoken at numerous meetings of the Society for College and University Planning, his principal professional organization.
He’s also headed SCUP’s international committees and serves now on the group’s board of directors.
At UGA, he’s taught an undergraduate course on organizational communication in the Terry College of Business and a graduate course on planning in higher education, and served on committees for graduate students in higher education, historic preservation and history.
“It’s been a privilege to spend my career here and have the opportunity to work in many roles and enjoy wonderful relationships with so many people,” he says. “I’ve travelled to many other universities and UGA is just a special place, and the main reason is the people who work and teach here.”