FSU’s Dr. Thomas Bowling Honored with University Medallion, Lifetime Leadership Award

Jun 26, 2019 10:25 AM

Dr. Thomas Bowling, vice president for Student Affairs at Frostburg State University, who is retiring this summer after 43 years of service to FSU, was lauded with two significant awards to round out a distinguished career.

At the University’s 154th commencement ceremony in May, FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk surprised Bowling with the University Medallion, FSU’s highest honor. The medallion recognizes an outstanding individual who holds the highest standards and who serves as a role model for students and all of humanity.

Earlier that month, at the Leadership Awards Reception, Bowling was honored with the first-ever Lifetime Leadership Award, recognizing an individual who has made significant and tangible leadership contributions to the FSU campus community over a lifetime of service.

“He has been the driving force for many initiatives at this institution, including experiential education, living-learning communities and things that involve the students here getting involved outside the classroom, which you will find very valuable throughout your career,” Nowaczyk told the assembled graduates at commencement. “He was also the first director of the honors program, and prior to my coming, he served as interim president. He is a valued colleague and friend.”

For the Lifetime Leadership Award, tributes were read from nearly a dozen colleagues and students whom Bowling mentored over the years. They praised him for his wisdom, humility, patience, strength and empathy, and for building a culture of care and helping students find their voices and accomplish their goals.

Bowling started at Frostburg in 1976 as the assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, later becoming associate vice president. He has been vice president since 2006. In addition to his role in founding the Honors Program, he was central to the founding of FSU’s ASTAR! AmeriCorps program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Bowling was also part of the team that launched the University’s Learning Community program, and he advocated for Introduction to Higher Education to become a requirement for all first-year students. Bowling took part in several key initiatives at FSU, such as requiring first-year students take an online course on alcohol education, FSU’s nationally recognized civic engagement programs, international educational opportunities and a program that encourages students to discover and build on their personal strengths.

Outside of the University, Bowling has been active in several professional associations, including NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education and the Fulbright Association following his experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. He also has served as a member of the ACT Board of Trustees, on the advisory boards for Outside the Classroom and Global Experiences, and a team member on several accreditation site visits for the Middle States Association. He also serves in a leadership role with Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic, serving as a member of its Senior Advisory Group for Engagement (SAGE).

Bowling earned his doctorate in higher education administration from Florida State University, his master’s degree in educational sociology from Wayne State University while serving with the U.S. Army in Germany and his bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences from Illinois State University.