The Bowling Era President John C. Bowling
MENTORED LEARNING Most faculty at Olivet are not only experts in academia but are also practitioners in their areas of study. Students benefit from rigorous classroom instruction as well as career mentorship and enhanced networking opportunities through building relationships with their professors. PHOTO BY JONES FOTO
This is a special issue of Olivet The Magazine that represents a departure from our usual format. In recognition of the 30-year tenure of Dr. John C. Bowling as president of Olivet Nazarene University as well as the accomplishments of his wife, Dr. Jill Bowling, we are dedicating this issue and 30 pages of content to honor their outstanding and remarkable leadership. We have also asked Dr. John Bowling to write three significant pieces for this issue: his parting thoughts to the Olivet community, his closing argument for the mission of Olivet — written specifically to prospective students and their parents — and the benediction, “A Prayer for Olivet.” At the dedication service of the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel in October 2010, Dr. Paul Cunningham ’60, general superintendent emeritus in the Church of the Nazarene, remarked as only he could at the beginning of his message, “And don’t we have the best leadership anybody could have anywhere, for anything? It doesn’t get any better than Dr. and Mrs. John Bowling, our president and his wife.” The room erupted with applause and cheers. We agree. Olivet has enjoyed the best of the best leadership in the Bowlings for the past 30 years — the longest tenure of a president in the history of Olivet. And in this moment, we must pause and offer our congratulations and thanks. We reached out to the entire Olivet family and invited submissions of gratitude in honor of the Bowlings, and the response was overwhelming. A number of those tributes are included here, but the entirety of those sentiments would fill books rather than just one issue of the magazine. In his book Grace-Full Leadership, Dr. John Bowling framed the mission of Olivet perfectly: “The world is waiting for a new generation of leaders — men and women whose mission is more than profit, whose morality is not contextual, and whose very life is an expression of grace; leaders who will manage themselves, inspire others, and forge the future.” The Bowlings have inspired generations of Olivetians to do more and be more. Their lives are proof of the
WHAT D O YO U TH IN K ?
power of an Olivet education. The Olivet experiment works! A young woman and man who grew up just 52 miles apart in small Ohio towns met at Olivet and built a life together. They answered the call to live lives of service to God and humanity through education, through the Church and through the tireless dedication to build a great organization — in their case, Olivet. Their high opinion of God, their dedication to His purposes, and their thoughtfulness, grace, generosity, friendship and kindness have inspired us to dream great dreams and pursue significant lives. The Bowlings came, they stayed, they served, they built and they altered the trajectory of Olivet forever. They surrounded themselves with an outstanding leadership team, a gifted faculty and an effective staff. They insisted the entire campus community stay focused each day on the success of Olivet students and the purposes of Jesus Christ. They taught us how to do things well and with style, sophistication and an unwavering commitment to quality. They modeled humility and dedication to their craft, and we admired them. We wanted our friends and family to meet them and to hear Dr. John Bowling speak. Shakespearean scholar Dr. David Bevington noted that William Shakespeare used the phrase “A Thousand Thanks,” both in life and in print, as the highest compliment that one could give to another. This was not merely a word of thanks for simple kindnesses; this was a deep and enduring gratitude for immense blessing and life-altering moments. In the case of the Bowlings, “Hundreds of Thousands of Thanks” might be more appropriate. John and Jill, we love you and we will miss you. We will always remember your investment and influence in our lives and our university, and we will be forever grateful. God has used you in miraculous and profound ways among us. Our lives have been changed because of you. You leave behind a superb legacy for generations to come. May the Lord bless you and keep you! A thousand thanks! The Editorial Board
ON THE COVER: OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAIT BY JACQUELINE JASPER
SPRING 2021 OLIVET THE MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Office of Marketing and Engagement under the direction of the Vice President for Institutional Advancement. VOLUME 89 ISSUE 2 (USPS 407-880) (ISSN 2325-7334) Copyright ©2020-2021 Olivet Nazarene University One University Avenue Bourbonnais, IL 60914-2345 800-648-1463 PRESIDENT Dr. John C. Bowling ’71/’72 M.A./’06 D.Div., Ed.D., D.Min. EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Dr. David J. Pickering ’89/’94 MBA, D.B.A. VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDENT DEVELOPMENT Dr. Walter “Woody” Webb ’86/’89 M.A.R./’08 D.Div. VICE PRESIDENT FOR INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT Dr. Brian Allen ’82/’05 Litt.D. VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS Dr. Stephen Lowe ’88/M.A., Ph.D. VICE PRESIDENT FOR ONU GLOBAL Dr. Ryan Spittal ’99/’04 MBA, D.B.A. EDITORIAL BOARD Dr. Brian Allen ’82/’05 Litt.D. Dr. Brian W. Parker ’93/’11 Ed.D. for 989 Group George Wolff ’93 for 989 Group Lauren Beatty ’13 Erinn Proehl ’13/’19 MBA ART DIRECTION George Wolff ’93 for 989 Group DESIGN Matt Moore ’96 for 989 Group Donnie Johnson ADDITIONAL ILLUSTRATION AND PHOTO EDITING Thomas Dinkleman ’18 PHOTOGRAPHY Jones Foto Image Group Mark Ballogg Joe Mantarian ’16 Austin Siscoe ’17 Natalie Cook ’22 Elizabeth Kijowski ’21 Additional photography submitted EDITORIAL SUPPORT AND DESIGN Adam Asher ’01/’07 M.O.L. for 989 Group Alicia (Gallagher) Guertin ’14 Rebecca Huber Austin Siscoe ’17 Heather (Kinzinger) Shaner ’98 STUDENT SUPPORT Skylar Blanton ’23 Justin Breuker ’21 Natalie Cook ’22 Hannah Iverson ’21 Jamie Kuiken ’21 Joe (Josiah) Mayo ’23 Kelli Neal ’22 Raegan Pedersen ’22 Madison Thompson ’23
Periodicals postage paid at the Bourbonnais, Illinois, Post Office and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster, send address changes to: Editor, Olivet The Magazine Olivet Nazarene University One University Avenue Bourbonnais, IL 60914-2345 Reproduction of material without written permission is prohibited. News, events and announcements are printed at the discretion of the editorial board. Opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent Olivet Nazarene University policy.
LEAVING A LEGACY Under President Bowling’s leadership, the campus has grown significantly, adding not only buildings, facilities and resources but also increased enrollment and acreage. PHOTO BY MARK BALLOGG
FROM THE PRESIDENT The Case for Olivet
A few years ago, I asked a group of individuals to picture their first day on campus as a college student. Most recalled a flurry of activity on a late summer or early crisp fall day. Luggage being toted from the car. Posters or decorations splashed across dorm room walls. Hugs and handshakes welcomed new classmates. The first day of college is a watershed moment, Memories of which stay with you for a long time. I remember arriving on campus for my freshman year. I can see my mother and father, our 1964 white Chevrolet Impala, a single suitcase, a handful of shirts on hangers and a small transistor radio. I can picture my college roommate, Steve, standing in Chapman Hall, room 109. I can also recall the mixture of excitement and anxiety that was embedded in those first few moments on campus. But now, as president of Olivet, I see things from the other side. Instead of being welcomed onto a college campus, these days I welcome others. Let me tell you what I see from the other side of the first day of college. I see parents flooding the campus — not just from the Midwest but from all over America and beyond. I watch them as they prepare to leave on our doorstep the most important thing in their world, their most beloved treasures. I see moms and dads entrusting us with their children.
This generally happens on a Friday evening and Saturday. Then, on Sunday, following a church service and a last meal together, I see those parents driving away. The trunk of their car — empty. The back seat — empty. Back to a house that’s … well … a bit more empty. The first day of college is a thrilling day for students but is generally a bittersweet day for moms and dads. In addition, it is a conferring of responsibility upon Olivet — a responsibility we take on happily. Not too long ago, colleges and universities viewed their tasks as continuing what parents started. That is why we refer to our college as our alma mater — our “nourishing mother.” Colleges and universities used to assume this parental role which, in Latin, is called in loco parentis — in the place of the parent. However, this nurturing idea has largely disappeared from American colleges and universities. Over time, college students started asserting their rights and making demands. Little by little, on many campuses, in loco parentis was replaced by coed dorms, binge-drinking, drugs, sex and rock ’n roll.
Olivet is not merely a university whose task is to provide a set of courses leading to a degree.
The rationale was that students considered themselves “adults” and, after all, one of the privileges of college is becoming independent. As a result, many colleges and universities simply turned their backs on this parental role. I understand how that happened, but I certainly do not agree with it. Our students are adults, but they are young adults entering one of the most important times of their lives. While we should not seek to “hold their hands” each step of the way from adolescence to adulthood, I think we should provide companionship, guidance as needed and a safety net for those who may stumble. Olivet was started by a group of families from east central Illinois who wanted the best for their children. Therefore, they mortgaged farms, took out loans, sold property and pooled their resources to start a school that would eventually become, for many of us, our alma mater. In the beginning days, Olivet was a family enterprise, and I still think of Olivet as an extension of the family. Olivet is not merely a university whose task is to provide a set of courses leading to a degree. We do that, but that is not all we do and it is certainly not our raison d’être — our reason for existence. At Olivet, we believe that higher education should have a higher purpose. If all we do is provide a degree ... that is not enough. It is not enough to justify more than 100 years of sacrifice. It is not enough to warrant families driving past a dozen or more other schools to come to Olivet. A degree alone does not explain why moms and dads take part-time jobs and work overtime to pay a school bill. If all we do is award degrees, we have missed our calling and we do not deserve your continued support.
However, the good news is that our calling is not education alone; it is also transformation. Olivet provides a place where young men and women learn to love God with all their minds, hearts and spirits, and to love others as themselves. When potential students and their families visit Olivet, we want them to sense the difference — the Olivet difference. Whether they come to study economics, engineering or education, we want our students to know that we are committed to helping them do more than learn how to make a living; we want to prepare them for life. Our calling is to provide an “Education With a Christian Purpose.” This mission shows up in the classroom, yes, but also in residence halls, on athletic fields, in clubs and organizations, in chapel, in the dining hall and in nearly every corner and conversation on campus. That mission is why our faculty and staff get up every morning and report for duty in the classrooms, offices and buildings of Olivet. That is why Nazarene churches of every size across this region sacrificially support the University through their education fund payments and why alumni and friends give annually to sustain this ministry. From this campus, one can see the future. Through the lens of Olivet, one catches a glimpse of all that is yet to be. Here, one hears the sounds of each new generation and feels the pulse of the dreams, hopes and aspirations taking root and beginning to blossom in the hearts and minds of our students. Olivet — this place, this hallowed place, this place of faith and learning, casts a long and sacred shadow.
DR. JOHN C. BOWLING is in his 30th year as president of Olivet Nazarene University. An Olivet alumnus and Harvard University Fellow with two master’s degrees and two earned doctorates, Dr. Bowling is a bestselling author and a prominent national speaker. He is internationally recognized as an outstanding leader in higher education and the Church. His most recent book is Windows and Mirrors: Exploring the Parables of Jesus.
2021 TIGER ATHLETICS HIGHLIGHTS After abbreviated fall and winter seasons, the Tigers have performed extremely well in spring matches, meets and games, with multiple teams ranking in conference and national competitions. The women’s swim and dive team placed first at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships for the second consecutive year. The men’s team also had a strong showing, placing third. The women’s basketball team won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) title, and the men’s team finished second in the conference. Twenty-four cross-country and track and field athletes qualified for the indoor National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national competition. The women’s volleyball team maintained a strong winning streak over the first half of the season and, at the time of printing, had advanced to the CCAC championship game. Also at the time of printing, the football team had maintained an undefeated regular season and was ranked 13th in the NAIA Football FirstDown Playbook Top 25 Poll.
FIND NEWS, EVENTS AND MORE AT OLIVET.EDU
WEEKLY COVID TESTING FOR OLIVET STUDENTS New on campus for the spring semester is noninvasive COVID-19 saliva testing for all residential undergraduate students as well as commuter students who participate in high-exposure groups. Faculty and staff also are able to participate in the testing, which is being conducted by the Department of Biological Sciences.
This type of testing has a high level of accuracy in identifying SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Test results that are flagged for COVID are sent to Health Services, and students are notified to follow up with a confirmatory diagnostic test. The weekly testing has been implemented in conjunction with Tiger Pause, a campus initiative launched in summer 2020 that reminds the campus community to abide by community health-focused protocols.
NURSING STUDENTS EXCEED NATIONAL NCLEX PASS RATES Olivet recently announced a 94% first-time pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for graduates of the University’s B.S.N. and A.B.S.N. programs. Passing the NCLEX ensures that new nursing professionals are properly equipped to safely practice in the workplace. Olivet’s first-time pass rates often exceed state and national averages, indicating that students are receiving exceptional levels of industry training in the nursing program.
NEW MUSICAL DEBUTS BASED ON THE LIFE OF FANNY CROSBY Through hours of collaboration, Olivet’s Department of Theatre debuted an original musical this spring. Simply titled Still, the musical was written by theatre director and assistant professor Ashley Sarver ’15/’18 MBA and workshopped by members of the cast and student musicians to develop the final production. Still loosely follows the life of hymnist Fanny Crosby, who, despite being born blind, found enormous professional success by writing more than 8,000 hymns throughout her life. The musical is available to stream through the end of the year by purchasing a ticket at Olivet.edu/tickets.
STUDENT RECEIVES AWARD FROM OXFORD In fall 2020, senior Stephanie LeVasseur studied abroad virtually with the Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford (SCIO) program at the University of Oxford. Stephanie, the only student in the program, demonstrated a commitment to excellence that made an impression on the faculty. For her academic accomplishments, she received the SCIO alumni prize for the Michaelmas Term 2020 Scholars’ Semester. The prize recognized her performance and demeanor throughout the semester and came with a bookstore voucher to encourage further scholarship.
Even though her Oxford semester was unconventional, Stephanie loved the experience and heartily recommended that other students complete a portion of their degree at another institution — even if the program is conducted virtually.
DR. CYNTHIA TAYLOR RECOGNIZED BY THE CITY OF KANKAKEE In celebration of Black History Month, Cynthia Taylor ’06 M.A., Ph.D., executive director of Multiethnic Student Services (MSS), was recognized by the City of Kankakee for her contributions to improving diversity and engaging students at Olivet. Dr. Taylor has served at the University since 2006, when she joined the Office of Counseling and Health Services staff as a therapist. In 2013, she was asked to lead MSS to provide leadership for events and activities that highlight cultural uniqueness while encouraging unity in the campus community.
CITY OF KANKAKEE
GRADUATE SCHOOL LAUNCHES 'YOUR WAY' PROGRAM This spring, Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies launched Your Way, a groundbreaking initiative featuring tuition-free general education courses, providing adult students with a pathway to earn a bachelor’s degree and creating a model that redefines the learning experience by using best-in-class technology to engage students online. The program is exclusively available for adult students who enroll through Olivet Online.
“Through Your Way, general education courses are tuition-free so that adult students from across the nation have equitable access to college,” explained Dr. Ryan Spittal ’99/’04 MBA, vice president for Olivet’s ONU Global division, which serves adult students. “Because every student has to take general education courses before taking the courses specific to their degree program, this tuition-free general education initiative flattens barriers and bends the cost curve, allowing students to take courses with no up-front costs.”
WITH HONORS: POLICY MEMO PUBLISHED BY DR. HIMES AND STUDENT RESEARCH TEAM Ryan Himes, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences, and juniors London “Coco” Withers and Alyssa Black recently had their policy memo, “Financial and Environmental Cost-Benefit Analyses Support the Continuation of Government Incentives for Solar Power,” published in the Journal of Science & Policy Governance. After researching the pros and cons of installing solar panels on some of Olivet’s rooftops, the team discovered that government incentive funds are critical for enabling nonprofit organizations such as Olivet to install solar arrays. ADOBE STOCK
“We decided to share our findings more broadly in an effort to advocate for the continuance of solar funding programs,” Dr. Himes said. “Our hope is that the memo might influence policymakers to take actions that would help protect God’s great creation. After sharing my initial research on this topic with the students, they caught my excitement and explored the topic further through one of their class writing assignments. It was then very natural to collaborate on the final report.”
ON THE BOOKSHELF The Rev. Tara Beth (Moore) Leach ’05 recently authored Radiant Church: Restoring the Credibility of Our Witness. The book examines the current landscape of the intersection of Christianity and culture and encourages readers to clarify their purpose in a Kingdom calling. She and her husband, Jeff ’04, live in Illinois with their sons, Caleb and Noah. Sam Mayhugh ’61, Ph.D., an executive psychologist, recently co-authored The Odyssey of King David: God’s Broken Vessel with D. Paul Thomas. The book provides a dramatic dialogue that unpacks the triumphs and struggles of King David. Dr. Mayhugh taught psychology at Olivet in the late 1960s. He is the founder of Integrated Behavioral Health and has served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He resides in Newport Beach, California.
GREGG CHENOWETH, PH.D., ELECTED 13th PRESIDENT OF OLIVET On Jan. 13, Olivet’s Board of Trustees elected Gregg Chenoweth ’90, Ph.D., as the 13th president. Dr. Chenoweth, currently the president of Bethel University (Indiana), will assume his duties as University president on June 1, 2021. He will succeed Dr. John C. Bowling, who announced in August 2019 his plans to retire. During the search process, the Board of Trustees was assisted by Mark Stevenson, search consultant and president of MK Stevenson Consulting. The Executive Committee of the Board served as the search and nominating committee. The committee solicited input from the entire Olivet community through a survey process that included the Board of Trustees; the ONU Alumni Board; the Olivet Foundation Board; Nazarene denominational and church leaders; and ONU leadership, faculty, staff and students. This process identified a diverse group of highly qualified candidates from around the world. After a broad and thorough vetting process, the search committee came to the unanimous conclusion to recommend Dr. Chenoweth to the full Board of Trustees for a vote.
“I am honored by the confidence of the Board,” Chenoweth said after the election, “and eager to add my ambitions to a faculty and staff already doing something special. If I could help reproduce for students even a fraction of what Olivet did for me, there will be a lot to celebrate."
“This has been a prayerful discernment process from beginning to end,” reflected Dr. Scott Sherwood ’92, Board chair. “We asked God for clarity and unity, and He has answered our prayer.”
Dr. Chenoweth graduated from Olivet in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He then earned a master’s degree in organizational communication from Northern Illinois University in 1992 and a Ph.D. in organizational communication from Wayne State University in 2003. Dr. Chenoweth has published works in nearly 30 media outlets and edited a book, Telos: The Destination for Nazarene Higher Education. He is married to Tammy (Salyer) ’89, and they have three adult children and identical twin granddaughters.
Dr. Chenoweth has been Bethel’s president since 2013. He previously served as the vice president for academic affairs at Olivet. During his tenure at Bethel, the university’s financial landscape dramatically improved, as net assets increased by 30% and long-term debt decreased by 40%. Chenoweth also transformed institutional culture, implemented successful debt-free programs for students and completed an extensive strategic planning process.
ROOM TO GROW Olivet is full of beautiful outdoor spaces for students to study, work, socialize and rest. Throughout the 275-acre campus, there are plenty of areas in which students can take a walk, throw a Frisbee, grab a coffee, engage in conversation or simply sit and enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons in the Midwest. PHOTO BY IMAGE GROUP
There was an almost inevitable quality to John Bowling’s success — not because things were handed to him easily, nor because his baritone voice and pensive temperament came straight out of Hollywood casting. (A student once told me she imagined he smelled like leather-bound books!) No, John’s success seemed inevitable because God designed him for this work and John nestled humbly in God’s hand. Then we all got to see what comes from a skilled and consecrated life. Dr. Gregg Chenoweth ’90 President-Elect, Olivet Nazarene University
leadership. generosity. legacy. Friends of Olivet as well as alumni, students and staff share their stories, congratulations and gratitude with John and Jill Bowling.
Dr. Bowling appreciates higher education, but, as an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, he also understands the mission needed for a Christian university. To have an individual that is an ordained elder and also terminally degreed is kind of unusual, but his appreciation of the academy for the sake of Christian mission is natural. Dr. Mark Quanstrom ’77 I was a member of the Olivet Board of Trustees at the time Dr. Bowling was elected as Olivet’s next president. It was a joy at that time to witness his election and also a joy to witness his excellent leadership through these many years. Darrell Wineinger ’61/’66 M.A.
“Not only were the Bowlings leaders in the academic world; they were also wonderful servant leaders in the spiritual world.”
leadership [John] loves Jesus, and he has spent his entire career at Olivet making an institution that's conducive to people for growth — whether it's academic or spiritual. Mark Reddy ’95/’18 M.O.L. Drs. John and Jill Bowling for three decades have exhibited exceptional leadership as the presidential team of Olivet Nazarene University. They have been champions and tireless advocates for the students, been instrumental in numerous campus developments, voices of spiritual inspiration, and worthy mentors and friends. The Bowlings have faithfully continued to position the University for a celebrated future. Thanks, and congratulations! Dr. David G. Roland
We have enjoyed observing all both of you have done at Olivet since you were students, our pastor at College Church and the last 30 years as president and first lady of Olivet. The amazing progress has been possible with your guidance as a leader with a vision for the University as well as the community. Jean and Charles Beatty ’58 On my first day, the expectations were laid out that this was “Education With a Christian Purpose.” The integration was a big deal on this campus, and we were a part of something much bigger than any of us. Dr. Bowling has never wavered from that. Dr. Kristian Veit
Dr. Bowling would always emphasize the importance of making one feel like they belong. Being a commuter, this would often be challenging at first, but Dr. Bowling truly did make us feel welcomed and heard. Thank you for giving us a voice and for all you’ve done. Junior Guadalupe Esparza
My most vivid memories of working with the Bowlings come from the numerous University revivals I was privileged to be part of. It was heartwarming to watch both John and Jill on their knees, service after service, praying with students around those altars at the chapel and College Church. Not only were the Bowlings leaders in the academic world; they were also wonderful servant leaders in the spiritual world. It’s no wonder why I, and thousands of others, love them so deeply. Dr. James H. Diehl ’59
Dr. Bowling possesses an incredible empathy that comes from his pastoral training. He knows when to empathize and when to direct — but always with a sense of caring and concern. It gives me such joy to watch him interact with our community leaders and sense their great respect for him. His leadership is transparent, and his willingness to assist the community has been warm and affirming. Yvonne Chalfant ’93/’97 MBA
He’s just a humble leader. He provides great vision, great leadership, but he recognizes that God is the One Who gives him the strength. Dr. Mark Williams
[John] is a reminder that if you live your life in an authentic way, you never have to tell a story to somebody else about who you are. You are that same person day in and day out. Matt McBurnie ’96
“We are grateful to God for His faithfulness and to both of you for your humble, obedient leadership at ONU.”
I came to Olivet in the fall of 1990 and attended College Church, where I grew more than I could imagine with the teachings of our pastor, Dr. Bowling. When he was elected as our president, I was not prepared for just how much deeper the impact of Dr. Bowling would become in my life. Over the next three years, my time around Dr. Bowling was among the richest experiences in my lifetime. The inspiration of Godly leadership I received has continued to influence the opportunities I've received over the years. Terry Bate ’94
You have become the heart and face of Olivet to us all! Leader of leaders! Friend of the ordinary, unsung individual. Alive with joy and encouragement! Your vision for Olivet has been bigger than life! Your concern for the students, noticeably kind. It has been our valued honor to know you! Ruth (Carroll) Yates ’62 I think the way that the Bowlings have led and been examples of Christ in the Olivet community and in the greater community has really impacted the way that other people lead. It’s top-down leadership in the best way possible. Lauren Beatty ’13
Dr. Bowling’s leadership has been felt throughout greater Kankakee County. Olivet Nazarene University’s quality education program was a hidden gem until Dr. Bowling welcomed the entire community to the stellar campus. The University is now recognized as one of the most elite campuses in the United States. His leadership did not stop within the boundaries of the University; he proved his commitment to the entire community, and we are a better place because of his leadership. Catherine R. Boicken ’96 18 OLIVET.EDU
Dr. and Mrs. Bowling, thank you for opening the doors of Olivet Nazarene University to the community and your strong message of faith and vision of what can be accomplished working together. Our community is a better place thanks to your leadership. Patrick Martin ’82
John and Jill Bowling did more than merely open the doors to our community; they flung the doors wideopen and welcomed us in with great warmth and a smile. And they saw to it that our community was a better place because of it. Jeff Hammes
Dr. Bowling’s impact on this campus is so known because he is so known, but what he's done behind the scenes is going to have a far greater impact than what he did up front. His model of leadership has instilled in me the importance of investing in the students I work with: getting to know what they're doing and learning something new along the way.
We have been acquainted with the Bowlings for many years, first when he was our pastor at College Church and then as president of Olivet, where we both work. We appreciate the leadership they have given to Olivet and their dedication not only to the students but also to the faculty and staff who worked with them.
Matt Smith ’00
Marsha and Dr. Robert Smith
When I look at John’s leadership and Jill and how they've worked together, the analogy that comes to my mind is cultivating the soil. I feel like their tenure here has created this culture, this climate, this soil where things can grow.
The love of God shines through both of you to the ONU community, the county and beyond. Thank you, Dr. John, for your Holy Spirit-inspired sermons. They have been encouraging, challenging and well spoken. Thank you, Dr. Jill, for the many delicious menus chosen for the faculty and staff dinners, Christmas gatherings and summer picnics. I always looked forward to the great food and fellowship, and the highlight of each gathering was seeing you greeting those who had gathered. The combination of your intelligence, vision, grace and humility is a beautiful thing.
Dr. Steve Case ’05
Dr. Bowling is a person of integrity, and he’s a person that has the ability to be in a presidential role because there’s so many multifaceted dimensions of it. He has a 360 view of Olivet, and I think that sets him up to understand the different constituents of Olivet in an unprecedented way.
One thing [Dr. Bowling] has taught me is that we should surround ourselves with people who are strong in the areas where we are weak. If we esteem those people, then we can learn from them. They can teach us. I see him endeavor that, and I respect that greatly.
Rev. David Wine ’72
Reflecting on my time at Olivet, I can clearly recall moments touched personally by Dr. and Mrs. Bowling. From their kindness in sharing laughs with students in their home to advocating for the wellbeing of the University and surrounding community, they demonstrate what it looks like to be servant leaders. I am thankful for the joy and love they bring to students every single day. Senior Lily Jarzabkowski
He’s a huge leader but never an arrogant leader — never someone who thought they were in charge [who said,] “It has to be my way.” He’s a pretty humble man for such an important role. Dr. Kelly (Foor) Brown ’92
Sharon Bellomy Dr. Bowling was my pastor at College Church before becoming the president at Olivet. In regard to both positions, I had great respect for the Godly attributes he exemplified. I am sure there is a special place in heaven reserved for you! Thank you for your kind, gentle spirit and strong, unwavering commitment to be the leader God called you to be and for doing it where God directed you to be. Steve Fry ’88
Part of Dr. Bowling’s character and his leadership style is to prepare and lay the groundwork for the future. Good leaders do that, and he’s an amazing leader. Bill Bahr ’96/’02 M.A./’14 MBA
Dr. B., you are the reason that students achieve their success. You’ve encouraged them to trust in a God who never waivers, never changes! You have lived a life before them as witness to that fact! I will be forever grateful that you followed God’s leading and came to Olivet to serve and lead. You've demonstrated that leadership is not a position or a title; it is action and example.
Under your leadership, Olivet has remained true to its light, hope and, most of all, purpose. We’ve seen that, because of that purpose, Olivet alumni carry that light, setting aglow campfires in thousands of places all over the world. We pray as long as there is an Olivet, that will continue. Sharren (Shelton) ’69 and Curt Weaver
Joy (Burt) Speas ’85
John and Jill both are like beacons of light across the campus. They shine as they come and go, and their humor and their leadership are going to be legendary for what they’ve brought to Olivet. Bill Greiner
Dr. Bowling stands among the giants of faith-based higher education institutions. When first stepping on campus, I was neither an Olivet grad nor a Nazarene, but the warm welcome I received made me feel right at home. Over his 30-year presidency, Dr. Bowling successfully has seen the University through many challenges. I attribute this impressive track record to the character and vision of leadership — with divine intervention also playing a critical factor at key junctures. Mike Shehorn
Your leadership, integrity, service and, most notably, your humility are incredible and unmatched. You have led through difficult times and tough decisions. I appreciate both your steadiness of character and constant work in the Gospel. Rachel Troyer ’16
Dr. and Mrs. Bowling epitomize what it means to be totally dedicated to Kingdom work. Beyond the advancements their leadership has brought to the Olivet community, their example has been personal, impactful and meaningful to so many. We are so thankful for John and Jill’s friendship and know God has exciting opportunities for them now and in the future. Debbie and Rick Dykhouse ’86 To me, it takes someone who really discerns the will of God to be a great leader, and though it’s a position that a lot of people seek, he’s content with where God has called him at the moment and is not afraid to say it. Dr. Marvin Jones
John and Jill, when God called you to leadership 30 years ago, it was a wonderful blessing that you accepted that call. He has directed, and you have led ONU to so many “next levels,” and those successes have been extended into the community and to the Nazarene educational system as well. Thanks to you both for your dedication to that cause, and may God bless as you move on to His next assignment. John C. Alexander '75 The love you have for Christ and for communicating the Good News has been the lifeblood of all your work. Your passion for Olivet and your commitment to its success have come through in all you do. I am honored to have worked with you and grateful that our pathways have intersected on so many occasions. Rev. Dr. Selden Dee Kelley III ’78/’86 M.A. Thank you for staying faithful to your calling as president at ONU. Thank you for leading with courage and faith in tremulous and uncertain times. Thank you for staying true to Olivet’s mission of integrating faith and learning for the purpose of service and ministry. Shari (Fluharty) ’87 and Wayne Fritch
Thank you to Dr. John Bowling for a steady hand of leadership on Olivet over these many years. I have had the privilege to call him my president for most of that time. From my four years as a student to my 15-plus years as an employee, he has continually modeled for me, through his words and deeds, what it means to be a God-fearing leader. Olivet is a better place because of his presence, his words of wisdom and his action in putting God first always.
We are grateful to God for His faithfulness and to both of you for your humble, obedient leadership at ONU for the [last] 30 years! May the road ahead rise up to meet you and the wind of the Spirit blow soft on your souls “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Jeremy Alderson ’98/’05 MBA
Sara and Rev. Greg McClain
We have enjoyed so many fun dinners and exciting adventures with you during these past three decades. We’re so grateful for your servant leadership. Dad began a campus beautification process that you took to the next level. The campus has never looked better, and the spirit of ONU remains grounded and strong. A million thanks for the heartfelt gift of your service, both of you, to all of us who love “Old Olivet.” Let’s keep the adventures going! Dr. Leslie (Young) ’84 and Dr. Les Parrott ’84
Thank you for being my friend and thank you for your leadership at Olivet. You have provided outstanding leadership at Olivet. The campus is as close to perfect as it can get! Thomas Wayne Roat Sr. ’74
Thank you so much for your incredible leadership at Olivet, John! My husband and I were both at Olivet while you were a student. You have always been a truly genuine person. With all you have accomplished, many others would have let it go to their head. But you have always been a greeter who remembers our names! Thank you for being a true Christ follower! Nina (Freesmeyer) Green ’70
I was fortunate to have many great professors while at ONU — but none better or greater than Dr. Bowling. He’s been a great teacher, leader and, most of all, a great Christian man that leads by example. May God bless you during your retirement, and thank you for your teachings and leadership throughout all the years. John Jaynes ’82
I was privileged to work under Dr. Bowling for 28 of his 30 years as president. John Bowling is a bold and courageous leader, and he is respected as a great leader in the community, both from a spiritual standpoint as well as business leadership. Over the years, the University faced a number of challenges, but Dr. Bowling always showed courage and enthusiasm in all situations. Congratulations to both of you on 30 great years of service.
“His leadership did not stop within the boundaries of the University; he proved his commitment to the entire community, and we are a better place because of his leadership.”
Sheila (Oswalt) ’70/’77 M.A.E. and Dr. Doug Perry ’68/’95 Litt.D.
Every time I’m asked a question about a leader that has impacted my life, Dr. Bowling is the first to come to mind. His strong moral character is really second to none, and he has impacted my family in so many ways. I am honored that my family story is intertwined with such an amazing person inside and out. Erika Moeschke ’12/’19 MBA
John and Jill Bowling and the Olivet story are inexorably linked. You can’t really tell the Olivet story without talking about John and Jill Bowling. Their generosity inspires me to be more generous and to give my life away for something that really matters, and I feel like that’s what they’ve done here. They’ve invested almost their entire professional careers in growing Olivet. That is a massive gift. Dr. Brian Parker ’93/’11 Ed.D.
Dr. John and Jill Bowling are a remarkably selfless couple that has served the Olivet community with excellence, grace and dignity. Dr. Bowling often remarked, “Higher education should have a higher purpose.” His presidential leadership personifies the maximization of a higher calling marked by faith, discipline, commitment and consistency.
I have had the privilege of being on the sidelines when the Bowlings have demonstrated generosity, and I know for a fact that those gifts were heartfelt and huge blessings. Their examples have made me be more generous. They have truly changed lives on this campus.
Warren Rogers III ’98/’09 M.A.
Dr. Amber (Bailey) Residori ’93/’17 Ed.D.
generosity I have experienced the kindness and generosity of John and Jill Bowling in many ways, but what stands out to me is the time they invited my friends and me into their home after we built them a snowman. They even gave us Starbucks gift cards! Senior Nolan Lewis
I have experienced firsthand the kindness and generosity of John and Jill Bowling both as a student and former employee. I have been deeply impacted by them in such a profound way. Their lives are a walking testament of love and authenticity. I pray my life resembles them in some small way. LaMorris Crawford ’06/’12 M.O.L. We have many times experienced firsthand the kindness and generosity of Dr. John and Jill Bowling, and we will always remember their support and love for our family at a very difficult time.
The generosity of John and Jill Bowling is not just in time and finances; it is the fact that they almost always wish it to be anonymous or kept quiet. People will not know all that they have done for students, faculty, staff and other people beyond Olivet until we're in heaven.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bowling as a professor at Olivet before he became president. He taught my Christian Doctrine class, where his intellectual presentation of Biblical principles and his heart for students had a great impact on my faith. When I graduated, the economy was bad, and I had a difficult time finding a job. During this time, Dr. Bowling accepted the pastorate at Dallas First Church of the Nazarene and moved to Texas. I stayed in touch with him, and he invited me to come down to Dallas and stay with him and Jill to look for a job there. I look back with fond memories and am forever grateful for the hospitality and love they showed me. The grace and example of Christian faith and love in action they showed to me will always be with me.
Dr. Jeff Bell ’81
Jim W. Jones ’81
When I had fallen on hard times, you ‘slipped’ me money so I could purchase shoes for my 3-year-old son. You both ALWAYS took time to acknowledge my two children with sincere attentiveness and interest. You both have shown grace, love, peace and self-sacrifice — how this world needs each! Thank you, and prayers for a fulfilling next chapter. Barbara (Ends) Genung ’74
Sharon and Warren Ouwenga OLIVET.EDU
He genuinely cares when you’re with him. He looks at you, he cares about you, and I don’t think you can pretend to be that way. It’s just a genuineness that he has shared with us now for 30 years. Dr. Mark Holcomb ’81/’18 D.D. In this moment of transition, I am struck by the generosity and affection Dr. and Mrs. Bowling have poured into this community. Serving as spiritual heads of our university for three decades, you have transformed our student body into a family. Thank you for being excellent examples of what servant leadership looks like. Senior Audrey McDaniel Our favorite times with Dr. Bowling have been our Holy Land tours together. The combination of intellect, relationship and anointing inside one person is not only impressive but inspirational! The Bowlings’ generosity toward others is legendary, and their ability to speak into people is life-changing. Whether it is a public address, a personal word, a quick comment while a picture is being snapped, a meal together or a passing “hello” at a District Assembly, John and Jill speak deeply into people’s lives. Dr. Marceil and Dr. Marc Royer ’86 From our wedding to our kids coming to ONU to these days as ONU professor and pastor, your gracious hospitality and friendship have been constant. Now, many years later, we celebrate YOU! Thank you for pouring your lives into a church where we were married and a university where our lives have been truly touched and transformed. You have worked tirelessly, giving your all to ONU and to those who are here. We love you! Dr. Teresa Beth (Ulmet) ’87/’91 M.A.E. and Rev. Kenneth Garner ’88 24 OLIVET.EDU
Dr. and Mrs. Bowling have served the Olivet community and the Church of the Nazarene incredibly well. Both John and Jill have shown us what it means to model Christlikeness, and they have done this by serving with excellence. I am deeply grateful for the impact that they have had on our family and the ways in which they personally invested in our children. Dr. Carla Sunberg ’12 D.D. Dr. Bowling had me at “Hello. Here’s my cell number.” He actually posted his personal phone number on the screen at freshman orientation. A banquet room full of future parents and students were speechless, wondering if such a grand gesture from the most distinguished leader could possibly be true. Immediately, Dr. Bowling calmed our nerves and captured our hearts. Every other encounter with Dr. Bowling left me feeling just as enamored by his kindness, sense of humor and spiritual strength. Nancy Gorbett Every time we meet, you greet us with a smile and sincere “How are you?” We are a few years ahead of you, so we know the emotions you will feel as you transition from an active work life to retirement. Yet, these will be special years of deepening your walk with the Lord and drawing closer to each other. Leora (Windoffer) ’68 and Jim Legacy ’83 The aspect of Dr. Bowling that I want to model in my life is the ministry of presence. Dr. Bowling never hesitated to take a photo with a student and seeing him at events helped boost the atmosphere. Senior Peyton Thibault
I have had the privilege of interacting with Dr. Bowling on many occasions for many different reasons, but my favorite was seeing him around campus. He always made sure to say “Hi” and “How are you doing?” It can seem like such a small gesture, but it has had a big impact. Dr. Bowling is a loving president who truly cares about each student and the mission of Olivet. He speaks with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. He carries himself with grace and dignity. It’s an honor to know him. Kendall (Gher) Milby ’15 When we think of the Bowlings, I think of the fruit of the Spirit: They’re loving, joyful, peacemakers, kind, good and gentle. They exude those qualities of Christ, and when you think about a president who puts his all into Olivet’s academia and its students, his life is here. Nancy ’11 M.S.N. and Dr. Mike Pyle John and Jill Bowling connected with Olivet students on a personal level. They would take time out of a busy day to stop and make genuine conversation. It has been a pleasure to get to know them and see firsthand how much they love this school and the students! Senior Elise Raquel As a faculty member, one of the things I love about Olivet is how my whole family feels a part of the Olivet community. The Bowlings have contributed to that by faithfully sending my children birthday cards every year! It makes my kids feel very special to know that Olivet is thinking of them. This is just one of many ways that the Bowlings make others feel valued. Dr. Ryan Himes
[John and Jill] are models of philanthropy, and it’s not only the stewardship of money, but it’s a stewardship of time and what God has entrusted to us. That’s the example that John and Jill have provided over the years. Stan Martin ’74 Dr. John C. Bowling is a one-of-a-kind man: You can never find one just like him. He cares so much about his Olivet family and students that he would give back to them by not accepting his salary! We love, appreciate and will miss Dr. B! Freshman Sergio Peña Pacheco Over the past 30 years, Mike and I have come to know John and Jill quite well, enjoying the professional relationship — but more so the personal connection we have formed. These two caring individuals have been there for us during the good and bad times. John and Jill are truly a dynamic duo. Their dedication and commitment to Olivet and its mission of “Education With a Christian Purpose” has been apparent each and every day of their 30 years as president and first lady.
I have experienced firsthand the kindness and generosity of John and Jill Bowling through their intentional interactions with students, their heartfelt conversations about bettering campus life for us and their extremely evident living out of Christlikeness. Their dedication to Olivet has greatly impacted this university for the better. Senior Emma Kindred John and Jill, you are both genuinely kind and considerate servants of Christ. Though you were gifted with many talents, you always stayed true to the Lord and remained humbled by the call of the Creator. You’ve been great examples to emulate.
As a freshman, my son and a bunch of his buddies went to a women’s basketball game. They didn’t initially notice, but Dr. and Mrs. Bowling were sitting in front of them. At one point, Dr. Bowling turned around and said, “If the Tigers win, we will take you guys out for dinner!” Sure enough, the Bowlings took the boys out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. It was the highlight of their freshman year! They took pictures with President Bowling after dinner and posted it on Instagram. That says a lot about who the Bowlings are, and I’m sure that this is one in hundreds of stories where the Bowlings took an interest in students they’ve never met and created a memory those kids will never forget! Randy Pfaff
Dr. Glen Rewerts We're grateful to John and Jill Bowling modeling for us what true dedication and investment look like both personally and professionally. Our family will forever be impacted by the interest and the care that they've expressed to us. Susan (Hendley) ’94/’06 MBA and George Wolff ’93
If you would look at Dr. and Mrs. Bowling, and you would peek just behind the welldeserved and earned titles, degrees and achievements, I think what you would find would be a litany of unheralded moments of grace and compassion directed toward other people. Dr. Neal Woodruff ’91
Cheryl (Hawkins) and Mike McClain Your impact here has made this such a special place for young people to develop in their professional and personal lives and, most importantly, in their faith. Thank you for being a Godly couple that fosters respect and eagerness for success.
“They are models of philanthropy, and it's not only the stewardship of money, but it's a stewardship of time and what God has entrusted to them.”
Kelsey (McNulty) Proehl ’13/’19 M.S.N.
serving The two words that come to mind about serving with Dr. Bowling are consistency and compassion. His relentless pursuit to navigate Olivet through decades of change while consistently protecting the mission and ethos of the University is unparalleled. His leadership always placed the mission of Olivet at the center of our thoughts and strategy as a team. At the heart of that was his care for the students, faculty and staff. His modeled leadership of compassion and attention to those that God entrusted him to lead is an example that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. Dr. Ryan Spittal ’99/’04 MBA Vice President for ONU Global For the past 30 years, I’ve had a frontrow seat as I’ve witnessed the Spirit-led leadership of Dr. John Bowling transform the Olivet campus into what it is today. I’ve seen firsthand the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Bowling extend well beyond the University, as many students have been the direct beneficiaries of their kindness, both of time and resources. Three decades of Olivet students have been impacted by the outstanding leadership, generosity and kindness of Dr. and Mrs. Bowling. Dr. Walter “Woody” Webb ’86/’88 M.A. Vice President for Student Development
In this moment of transition, I am struck by the thousands of lives — staff, faculty and students — that have been directly shaped and formed by the ministry, leadership and example of John and Jill Bowling. The Kingdom difference that they have made through our university has been greater still because of the immeasurable, ever-widening ripple effect, as all of those Olivetians have left this place and influenced countless other lives within their families, churches and professions. For more than 30 years, John and Jill Bowling have given themselves to the Olivet community in a work that has been historic, transformative and good. Dr. Stephen Lowe ’88 Vice President for Academic Affairs I remember as a young employee Dr. Bowling being elected as our president. What struck me at the time and continues to impress me is his love for people. He cares deeply about students and the many issues that they encounter in life. He cares about employees and shows genuine care for us. Over the years, the Bowlings have demonstrated their love by giving of their time, energy and resources to the people of ONU. The Bowlings have invested themselves 100% into their work, and the benefits of that are already being seen in the world. The University has grown under their leadership, and the impact of
our students has grown along with that. ONU has been positioned as a leader in Christian higher education through their dedication. While they will be greatly missed, their legacy will continue. Dr. David Pickering ’89/’94 MBA Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John and Jill Bowling love Olivet. Even to the casual observer, this is obvious. Their love for and belief in its work is expressive and expansive! John and Jill have served Olivet with a wholehearted clarity of vision, singleness of purpose and unbounded energy. Their focused dedication to its work and reach have inspired the best in all of us associated with the University. I have observed that no matter the question on the proverbial administrative table, when making decisions about any aspect of its work, two questions were always on John’s mind: First, how does this fuel our mission and, second, how does it impact students and enhance the student experience? Institutions have a soul, and Olivet’s soul has been shaped by the love, nurturing and unparalleled dedication of John and Jill. What a privilege to have had a frontrow seat to these transformative years! Dr. Brian Allen ’82 Vice President for Institutional Advancement
As Olivet has flourished under the leadership of John Bowling, the result has been thousands of alumni making a difference in the world. I am struck that although Olivet has grown and improved in many ways, it wonderfully remains the same. I will be forever grateful that the Bowlings’ vision for excellence also protected the core fabric that alumni everywhere cherish. Dan Taylor ’79 I am a big fan of Eugene Peterson’s book (and concept) A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, and Dr. Bowling’s life and ministry is one of the strongest definitions of this powerful concept. His relentless consistency and servant’s heart throughout the 30 years of service at ONU is an inspiration to us all. Rusty Funk ’07
My husband and I both attended Olivet when Dr. Bowling was also a student. His leadership potential was evident to all even then. Now, four generations of our family have attended Olivet. We are so proud of what he has accomplished for our beloved Olivet in these 30 years. Thank you for your vision for Olivet and your leadership. Teddie (Anderson) Hill ’73 Over these 30 years, I have appreciated the incredible difference Drs. John and Jill Bowling made at Olivet. Friends of Olivet who have known them a short time — along with those who have prayed for and admired their leadership for 30 years — intuitively trust them. John and Jill are the real thing. They will be forever remembered with love and esteem by alumni, friends, faculty, staff and the community. Rev. John Mongerson ’76/’08 M.A.
legacy We won’t have to worry what Olivet is going to be like without the Bowlings because their legacy, their impact and all that they’ve done at Olivet will continue for generations. We don’t have to worry what it’s going to be like without them because their fingerprints will show up at Olivet forever. Erinn Proehl ’13/’19 MBA When I think about [the Bowlings’] integrity, I’ve thought, “What a legacy to leave. What a legacy of integrity and generosity combined.” To me, it’s that legacy for which we owe them sincere gratitude. Dr. Kent Olney They are people who genuinely care, and that rubs off on other people. Who they are has rubbed off on all of us, and it just made all of us a little bit better.
Dr. Bowling’s legacy is left in the hearts and the minds of the students. As we leave ONU, a part of ONU goes there with us. We all remember ONU for a lot of things — whether it’s the friends, the professors or the staff — but there's also Dr. Bowling. … Dr. Lance Kilpatrick ’02 I am so thankful that, during my time at Olivet, Dr. Bowling was president of the University. I looked forward to every chapel message. The longevity of Dr. Bowling’s leadership has made an extraordinary impact on the trajectory for ONU. His visionary leadership has allowed Olivet to continue to move forward in the present moment but has also paved the way for anything the future holds.
I don’t know that the length of his presidency is really what his legacy is about. His legacy is about having a vision for what all of it could become and really putting that as his primary focus, never forgetting the call and the mission of the University. Dr. Leon Blanchette I am proud to be a part of your legacy and have looked to your leadership example many times as a model for my own as I’ve come into nontraditional leadership roles in the Church of the Nazarene. Perhaps what has impacted me the most is your willingness to trust the Spirit’s moving in your personal life. Thank you for loving the next generation. Rev. Emily (Kortanek) Armstrong ’99
Ryan Drenth ’14/’19 M.A.
Dr. Dena (Owen) ’82 and Dr. Don Reddick ’79
You have created a God-centered environment full of top-notch education, fun and community. Your messages are always eloquent and inspiring. You are sophisticated and distinguished yet down-to-earth and relatable. You are intentional about being involved and engaged in students’ lives. I pray that God blesses you and gives you fulfillment in this new season of life! Lindsay (Mullins) Sereno ’07 The Bowlings’ service has been a positive influence on our lives and family for many years, and the pastoral ministry of John and Jill to our family is deeply appreciated. The University has thrived under the leadership of Dr. Bowling. The Christian purpose has been strengthened as well as the breadth and depth of the academic programs. Even as the enrollment has increased, interest in each student's well-being has been kept. Esther (Johnson) ’57 and Dr. John Hanson ’57 The story that will be told about John is that he loved Olivet and he gave life to it. That’s his legacy. Mary Ada (Bennett) ’68 and Dr. Paul Dillinger ’71 What an amazing testament to a life well lived and a career well established. I’ve gleaned so many nuggets from you over the years — both personally and professionally. You’ve helped countless alumni find our Christian purpose. May your legacy live on in those students who have passed through Olivet’s hallowed halls and those to come. Sheldon Jones ’03/’07 M.O.L.
Many books could be written about the wonderful impact John and Jill have had on ONU and our community, but perhaps the best observation could be taken from Matthew 25:23: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
[John’s] vision is going to live on. He saw Olivet as bigger than it was when he started — not just numerically, not just the physical plant. … The umbrella of Olivet’s mission is bigger today than ever before. And that steady hand on the wheel says, “This is where we’re going.” Dr. Paul Kenyon
Dennis Hess ’66 [John is] such an amazing storyteller, and I love that he tells the Olivet story over and over and over again and reminds us how God has guided and protected this place. I think that's one of the most valuable things that he’s done for all of us. Pam (DeZwaan) Greenlee ’70 We have appreciated Dr. Bowling’s leadership of the University, his speeches and sermons, and his writings over these many years. The Bowlings will be greatly missed at ONU. We are thankful the published work lives on to impact the lives of future generations. Linda (Manville) ’81 and Don Pierce ’81 I think that what intrigues me the most about Dr. Bowling is his ability to balance professionalism with personal touch. I’ve always come away [from his teachings] encouraged, optimistic and believing that excellence was possible in every area of life. Dr. Charles Perabeau ’94
My college years were some of my most cherished years, as I solidified my personal faith and also began to define my musical future. Your positive spirit, compassion for students and drive for excellence all influenced the atmosphere of Olivet on a daily basis. It was always a treat to run into you on campus or at some event. Your response was always one of genuine interest, and that meant a lot. Your legacy will be felt — and will give direction to upcoming leaders — for as long as Olivet exists on this earth. Christy (Toland) Kuzmich ’80 It has been 15 years since I graduated, but I still distinctly remember some of the messages Dr. Bowling shared in chapel even from my earliest days on campus. He shared messages that were sticky and relevant, and we learned and were encouraged each time he spoke. Jessica (Allison) Swanson ’06 I remember, during a chapel sermon, Dr. Bowling echoed the timeless phrase “If not us, who? If not now, when?” These simple yet powerful words were a challenge to us all in every walk of life. That sermon and those words impacted me greatly during my time at Olivet and have inspired me to become the leader I am today. Senior Jeremy Pilz
Dr. Bowling was the pastor at College Church while I was a student at Olivet, so I never got to experience him as the college president! However, his impact on my life and the echoes of his sermons still remain today! Thank you for saying yes to Jesus! I am a life that was changed. Trina (Graham) Juneman ’89 It has been impressed on me for some time the degree of respect and the degree of admiration that Dr. Bowling has among the students. He is a student’s president. Dr. Paul Koch The legacy of Dr. John Bowling at Olivet will be that of pushing forward into new areas, new growth, leadership expansion and development. The respect and love that people have for this university is because they trusted his leadership for so many years. Dr. Carlos Lonberger ’06/’14 M.A./’19 Ed.D. Today, I’m more impressed with and proud of Olivet than when I attended and graduated from there. Dr. Bowling has successfully built upon the foundation of those before him. Thank you for a “job well done”! Richard Blodgett ’74 I want to thank the Bowlings for welcoming the students, staff and community of Olivet into their home, their lives and their sphere of influence. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be shepherded by these servant leaders who care meticulously for our individual education, transformation and calling. Sophomore Anna Parker
We have known John and Jill Bowling for over 50 years. I first met John [during] the fall semester of 1969 at Olivet. He was a member of the Collegiate Quartet, and I was a member of the Treble Tone Trio. The college was combining the quartet with two female trios to form the very first Olivetians mixed group. I remember our first group meeting in Ludwig, when I was seated between John and Dr. Reed. John had a new roommate that fall: Rick Lee. At some point during that fall semester, John introduced Rick to me, and the rest is history. Rick and I dated [and] then got married in August 1970, and John was a part of our wedding party. John and Jill, you both have been excellent role models to us all over these past 30 years. We are blessed to call you friends.
His legacy is going to be incredibly hard to beat because of the duration but also because of the way in which he shepherded this university — both in terms of extremely high character and the ability to do the things that the university president has to do.
Julie (Dause) ’73 and Rick Lee ’73
June and George Kalemkarian
I remember my graduation! They called my name, handed me my diploma and then Dr. Bowling turned and hugged me. He has had a major part in my “growing up,” and I will be forever grateful for the impact he has made in my life.
I am so proud of you not only as who you are in Christ but also as my classmates. Thank you both for every one of the years you have given to Olivet! You are two dedicated people who have “stayed the course.” I’m sure you will continue winning souls for Christ. If possible, enjoy life from now on without schedules.
Kendra (Seaman) Burchfield ’97
Dr. Dan Sharda We appreciate John and Jill’s faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, combined with their emphasis on excellence in education. John and Jill have been role models of accessibility to the students. As parents, we are grateful for the atmosphere they have created to develop young women and men for lives of service.
Marsha (Easterling) Meyers ’72 Thank you, Dr. Bowling, for the passion that you have for the students of Olivet. There’s never been a time when I’ve wondered if you actually care about the people here. Every time I’ve ever spoken to you, I left the conversation feeling cared for, heard and loved. Junior Adam Keller
“Your positive spirit, compassion for students and drive for excellence all influence the atmosphere of Olivet on a daily basis.”
I M PACT
RAVING FANS Gratitude for the life and ministry of Dr. John C. Bowling JONES FOTO
From Biblical times until today, God has worked through those who listen for His direction and obey. John Bowling heard God’s voice and accepted a divine invitation to full-time Christian service. God has used John’s willingness to serve in unusual ways across a lifetime of ministry. He has blessed the lives of many people throughout his career as pastor, professor and university president — and most people think of John as their friend. He has endeared himself across the years to local church parishioners, university students, parents, professors, staff members, members of the Board of Trustees and leaders in the Church of the Nazarene.
John has always reached beyond the walls of the local church and university campus to serve individuals, organizations, and worthy causes in his local community and across the educational region of his church. Only God knows the number of hours he has poured himself quietly into so many ministries for Christ and His Kingdom. John has been an outstanding preacher throughout his ministry and spread the Gospel message around the world. He has also been an avid writer with seven published books and hundreds of articles. I have benefited personally and spiritually from his writing. He has served his denomination faithfully throughout his ministry on district and general
church committees and boards, including the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene as well as the executive committee of that board. John offers a worthy example of a life totally committed to Christ and in His service. On behalf of the Board of General Superintendents in the Church of the Nazarene, we offer our heartfelt gratitude for his ministry within the Church of the Nazarene and we wish him and his wife, Jill, continued fulfillment as they enter the next chapter of their lives together. Dr. David W. Graves ’75 General Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene
When the Board of Trustees elected you 30 years ago, who but the Lord could have known just how right they got it? Spirits were high on campus and around the region at the news of your election, but no one could have predicted the breathtaking development of the physical campus, the growth in student enrollment both on campus and online (none of us had ever been online at that point), or the national prominence that would be reached by Olivet’s academic programs and athletic teams. As a student, professor, pastor of College Church and president, you have spent over three-quarters of your adult life at Olivet. Over that time, your name has become synonymous with Olivet, and you have given Olivet a very good name. Over all these years, your conduct has been above reproach. Your demeanor has been Christlike. Your character has exceeded even your reputation. Your everyday interactions with students, staff, faculty, parents, pastors, alumni, donors and neighbors alike consistently left people better off than you found them. With each passing year and every new challenge, your character and competence earned you the credibility to lead the Olivet community to heights never before reached. You and Jill have not just led Olivet; you have loved Olivet, and every Olivetian feels it. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Olivet community, THANK YOU! Rev. Dr. Scott Sherwood ’92 Chair, ONU Board of Trustees
It seems impossible that the time has come to celebrate your 30 years of outstanding leadership and service. We had many good times together when I worked for you and then served as chairman of the Board of Trustees. Both you and Jill have been examples to our faculty, staff and an amazing student body as well as the pastors and laity of the Olivet educational region, year after year. Thank you for always challenging us to become the best in what we do in uplifting Olivet and making it ever a better place. Thank you for your friendship. You will certainly be missed but never forgotten. Dr. Ted R. Lee ’68 Former Vice President and Former Chair, ONU Board of Trustees People like John and Jill Bowling come along every now and then. John has always been decisive, bold and visionary in his ministry as a pastor and his leadership at ONU. The quintessential preacher, always a gentleman, always dressed, as he would say, as if he “planned to be here”! Jill has contributed to the Olivet family in as many ways as he. With grace and charm, she has engaged students, faculty and constituents, leaving behind a legacy that all will cherish. Friends, to be sure!
Of my 34 years at Olivet, 29 of them involved my working closely with John Bowling: four years as my faculty colleague, eight years as my family’s pastor at College Church and 17 as my boss! Of the many things I could say about those particular relationships and about that man, another voice and early 20th-century entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, beat me to it:“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Dr. Bowling, what a gentleman, model and inspiration you have been to those of us who have worked so closely alongside you during your unparalleled chapter in Olivet history! Dr. Gary W. Streit Vice President for Academic Affairs Emeritus The recent lifetime achievement award to Dr. Bowling by The Daily Journal was more than well earned. His and his wife’s service to Olivet and to the community were monumental and leave behind a grateful following. I wish them all the best. Len R. Small Publisher, The Daily Journal
Congratulations, Dr. and Mrs. Bowling, as you begin your new chapter. It was wonderful to see firsthand your great work at the University, and the Chicago Bears are forever grateful for our partnership.
Dr. Bowling’s dedication, leadership and visionary influence throughout his tenure have greatly influenced the Olivet community and, additionally, complemented the Village of Bourbonnais. His impact will be feIt for many years to come. It has been a privilege to witness the University flourish into a prominent, prestigious and nationally recognized educational institution under Dr. Bowling.
Brian McCaskey Vice President, Chicago Bears
Mayor Paul Schore Village of Bourbonnais
Dr. J.K. Warrick General Superintendent Emeritus, Church of the Nazarene
“John offers a worthy example of a life totally committed to Christ and in His service.” OLIVET.EDU
Dr. Bowling understands the transformative power of education to enhance community. By generously sharing his vision, he creates expectations and sets a high bar for excellence. Ultimately, it’s his humble approach to leadership which inspires so many other community leaders to achieve the lofty goals he sets. Dr. Michael Boyd President, Kankakee Community College Without John and Jill Bowling, Olivet would mean nothing to us. We are not graduates nor have any of our family had previous relationships to Olivet. But from getting to know the Bowlings through community activities, we now count them as friends, and we have found great joy in that friendship and in our support of Olivet and its students. We wish them all good things as they transfer the reins to new leadership and enter the next phase of their lives, wherein we expect their meaningful contributions to our world to continue. Sharon and Gaines Hall The Bowlings’ local legacy is best viewed through the thousands of lives impacted for Christ through their unwavering commitment to ministry. As part of those impacted through multiple decades, my family is eternally grateful for the blessings extended through their faithful local pastoral ministry, visionary university leadership and dedicated community advocacy. Chris Shride ’93 President, AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital
It has been an honor to work with Dr. Bowling over the years. His dedication has been inspiring, as has been the tremendous success of ONU under his leadership. I wish him and Jill nothing but happiness as they embark on the next exciting phase of their own remarkable journey. Phil Kambic President and CEO, Riverside Healthcare Dr. Bowling, you have displayed exemplary selfless leadership, extending your influence far beyond the borders of the United States. You have been a source of inspiration and have given sage advice and support in times of need. You have been excellent servant leaders and role models for both your peers and the people you lead. You always leave a lasting positive impact in the lives of the people who cross your paths. Olivet stands on solid ground due to your tireless, diligent, committed and selfless service. On a personal note, you and Jill have been dear friends to our family. We thank God for you and pray that He continues to bless you abundantly. May His grace surround you and lead your paths to greater heights, good health and serenity of spirit.
We have experienced firsthand the kindness and generosity of John and Jill Bowling. They lead by example, showing interest in even lowly freshmen! Their warmth and humility make them approachable to all and multiply our experience by the thousands of students whose lives have been touched by this amazing couple over the years! The Honorable Dan Coats Former U.S. Director of National Intelligence
Dr. Leah Marangu ’65 Former Vice Chancellor, Africa Nazarene University Dr. John Marangu ’64
“Thank you for always challenging us to become the best in what we do in uplifting Olivet and making it ever a better place.” “You have been excellent servant leaders and role models for both your peers and the people you lead.”
This moment powered by The Olivet Fund is the University’s annual giving program that directly supports the student experience and the University’s mission of an “Education With a Christian Purpose.” We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support this past year. With record-breaking numbers, the Olivet community has come together to fund extra costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional student scholarship support and, recently, on the Day of Giving, various projects around campus. Thank you for powering moments of inspiration and hope in the lives of Olivet students.
To power moments like this, visit Olivet.edu/give. OLIVET.EDU
L E G ACY
FIRST PERSON A Tribute to Jill Bowling by Dr. Lynda Allen
36 OLIVET.EDU THE DAILY JOURNAL
There is another Dr. Bowling who has worked tirelessly for decades on behalf of Olivet, making an impact that is impossible to measure: Dr. Jill (Cheeseman) Bowling ’70/’89 MBA/’07 Litt.D
The extraordinary contributions of Jill Bowling often take place behind the scenes, but look closely and you will see the fingerprints of this remarkable woman all around our campus and in the lives of students and alumni around the globe. Jill has a myriad of gifts, but three attributes quickly come to the forefront: an uncommon ability to create beauty, a passion for all things Olivet and genuine hospitality. Jill’s eye for design, commitment to excellence and attention to detail can be seen in every building that has been built or refurbished on our campus over the last 30 years. Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Jill clearly understands how true that sentiment is. The mother of an Olivet graduate once relayed that when she and her daughter first visited the campus, they knew from their first stop in the Admissions Center that Olivet was a place that cared about design and beauty. For this particular family, it was key to their decision to choose Olivet. What they didn’t know at the time was that Jill was the visionary leader behind so much of the beauty on our campus, and a prime example of that influence is on display in our Admissions Center. Many of the unique touches throughout this place can be largely attributed to Jill, who quietly works to ensure that the institutional commitment to excellence is reflected in its buildings. Passion for all things Olivet runs deep in Jill. She truly bleeds purple and gold. This love is revealed through the way she consistently shows up at campus events. Concerts, recitals, art shows and ballgames are constants in Jill’s schedule. Jill is an avid Tiger fan. While one would typically describe Jill as “composed,” that is not always the case at a game. She is a bundle of nerves during a tight ballgame and often joins students in their revelry.
Gracious hospitality is another gift Jill has given to the Olivet community. She pays close attention to the details of events to ensure that menus are just right and that guests feel welcomed. President’s dinners, Christmas teas and summer staff picnics are all examples of Jill’s genuine care for the Olivet community. She honors faculty and staff through her generosity of spirit. One of the hallmarks of Jill’s tenure as first lady is her hospitality to small groups of students in her home. Ministry teams, student council leaders and random collections of fellow Tiger fans have all found a place at the Bowlings’ table and been welcomed as friends. A few years back, Jill hosted a formal English tea for a group of students simply because she learned it was on the bucket list of two young women. It’s a memory they will never forget from their time at Olivet. Jill has a gift for providing an abundant and beautiful meal in a comfortable and welcoming manner. She has been a model of generosity and heartfelt hospitality to alumni, students, faculty and staff. For 30 years, we have been blessed by this amazing woman. Through her generosity, grace, insight and commitment to excellence, the other Dr. Bowling has left an indelible mark on all of us who love Olivet! Thank you, Jill!
Dr. Lynda (Bradford) Allen ’82 is a professor of marketing and leadership in the McGraw School of Business. Her husband, Brian Allen ’82, is the vice president for institutional advancement at Olivet. They have three children, all of whom are Olivet alumni, and two grandchildren. She and her family are actively involved at College Church of the Nazarene University Avenue in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Recently, she said that one of her all-time favorite memories from her time at Olivet is when she was present to witness students tear down the goalpost at Ward Field and carry it to the Quad. She is passionate about these events and these memory-making moments because she truly loves Olivet and its people. OLIVET.EDU
ting a r b Cele ars 30 yadeership of le
Evening with Friends gala PHOTOGRAPHY BY IMAGE GROUP AND JOE MANTARIAN
On Saturday, March 27, more than 700 students, faculty, alumni and members of the community gathered in the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University for an evening of celebration in honor of University President Dr. John C. Bowling.
Josh Ring, Organist
Cyndi (Green) Frame and Taylin Frame
Tiger Marching Band
Evening with Friends gala
The Evening With Friends Gala began with a stunning performance by professor Josh Ring on the Ruffatti organ and continued with a selection of hymns and gospel music as well as Broadway favorites, performed by Orpheus Choir, Proclamation Gospel Choir, Concert Singers, the ONU Tiger Marching Band and select student, faculty and alumni musicians. Additionally, soloists including Brian Allen ’82/’05 Litt.D., George Wolff ’93, Brian Parker ’93/’11 Ed.D, Mark Hodge ’94, Jasper Taylor ’10/’12 M.O.L., Dr. Marvin Jones, Cyndi (Green) Frame ’84, Taylin Frame ’13, Amber (Leffel) Olney ’14, Ashley (Raffauf ) Cherney ’14, Jacquelyn Owens ’11, Ashlie McIntire ’10, Bradley Garvin ’87, Wes Taylor ’10 and Luke Olney ’10/12 M.O.L. showcased their vocal talents throughout the concert. Many of the musical selections for the evening were skillfully arranged and conducted by Ben Cherney ’14. Interwoven with the music were speeches given by professor Ashley Sarver ’16/’18 MBA, Dr. Gary Streit, LaMorris Crawford ’06/’12 M.O.L. and Dr. Scott Sherwood '92, chair of the Board of Trustees. Full of reflection and gratitude, their poignant words reminded the audience of the many ways in which Dr. Bowling’s leadership and generosity have distinctly shaped the University and the surrounding community. During his speech, Dr. Sherwood also officially launched the John C. and Jill Bowling Scholarship Endowment. Initially, the total fundraising goal was set for $1 million. However, through the generosity of lead gifts from the Olivet community, Dr. Sherwood announced that the endowment has already exceeded that goal. The fund will honor the legacy of the Bowlings by providing scholarship support to students for generations to come. To contribute to the endowment, please visit Olivet.edu/BowlingEndowment.
Watch highlights from the gala at Olivet.edu/BowlingTribute
The latter portion of the gala featured a film highlighting the Bowlings’ 30-year tenure through video selections of some of Dr. Bowling’s most memorable sermons, photos, and interviews with faculty and staff who recounted how the Bowlings have influenced the Olivet community. Since taking the oath of office in August 1991, Dr. Bowling has modeled excellence in servant leadership for the University. Over the course of his tenure, he has provided leadership for the construction or acquisition of 61 new buildings and the major remodeling of 27 community buildings for University use. Additionally, he and Jill have helped enhance student life opportunities; raised millions of dollars and helped expand development efforts; established the ONU Global online graduate programs; opened the campus to the Chicago Bears summer training camp for 18 years; and encouraged the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, surrounding schools, and guest artists and musicians to use campus facilities for concerts, theatrical productions, graduation ceremonies and conferences of all kinds. If that alone doesn’t demonstrate his commitment to excellence in the greater community, Dr. Bowling also made his mark as a long-serving member of the boards of directors of six local organizations.
Evening with Friends gala Ashley (Raffuaf) Cherney
Evening with Friends gala Jasper Taylor and Proclamation Gospel Choir
After enjoying the celebratory evening of music and nostalgic reflection, the Bowlings took a moment to respond to the event. “Leaving Olivet is so much more than leaving a job; it’s our life,” Dr. Bowling said. “The faculty and the staff — they really are our family. This great community has been a source of friendship and encouragement. Frankly, leaving is a bit tough for us. I think, though, of that classic passage from Ecclesiastes: ‘To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven.’ I think it’s OK to say there’s a time to work and a time to retire. So, it’s time. We look back with deep appreciation. We’re the ones who have been blessed — far more than Olivet — and we look forward with anticipation. My hope is that the very best days for Olivet Nazarene University are just ahead. May God make it so. Thank you, everyone.”
An Interview With John and Jill Bowling John and Jill Bowling sit down with Amber (Bailey) Residori ’93/’17 Ed.D. and Susan (Hendley) Wolff ’94/’06 MBA
Amber: Take us back to the summer of 1991 when you were elected president. What were you both thinking and feeling? Jill: It was a much different setting because Dr. Parrott had resigned. People knew there was going to be an election in July and, of course, there were rumors and lists of who might be on the ballot. But as it came down to the election, there were only two names on the list that the Board would vote on, and John was not one of them. So, it wasn’t something we really thought might happen. John: That released us from worry. I didn’t expect to be elected, so we were kind of bystanders leaning in to figure it out with everyone else. When the call actually came in the middle of the night, I was totally surprised. Jill: There had been a dinner that night to celebrate Dr. Parrott and Mrs. Parrott. Following the dinner, we knew the Board [of Trustees] would go over to Burke and start voting on the two names. Again, John was not one of them, so we went back to our home, which is the Hopkins Alumni Center now. We sat and watched a movie and then went to bed. Amber: And you woke up a president! John: Yes. Amber: Was it an ask, or was it “You’ve been elected”? John: It was a really strange, middle-of-the-night phone call, so I remember it vividly. I got up without turning on the light, and when I picked up the phone, the president’s secretary said, “Dr. Bowling, the chairman of the board would like to speak with you.” I said, “OK,” but it still hadn’t clicked yet. Dr. Wiggs then came on the phone and said, “Dr. Bowling, I’m calling to tell you that you have just been elected the 12th president of Olivet.” He asked me to come over and meet the Board that evening, and I hung up the phone. I was suddenly wide-awake. Jill: I remember exactly what you said: “Help us, Lord. I’ve been elected.”
John: So, I combed my hair and put on a sports coat and walked across the street. My college roommate happened to be on the Board, and so he came down to meet me at the curb and we walked up together. After a brief conversation with the Board, I came back home and Jill and I sat up the rest of the night. We talked about what this job would mean for us personally and professionally. Suddenly, we were going from being the community pastor, where you are familiar with every family situation, to the boss. I remember saying, “How people respond and react to us is going to depend on us.” You have to create an environment of trust and respect. Amber: How right that’s been! That was prophetic. John: The next morning, I had a courtesy meeting with the general superintendent and was then invited by the Illinois district superintendent to come to district assembly the next night. So, the job just started immediately. Being elected in mid-July, though, I had to hit the ground running — which was good because I didn’t have a chance to worry much. Looking back, what I think is strange is that I wasn’t looking forward to the position. I didn’t anticipate it. But, I felt very comfortable from Day One. Of course, there was a big learning curve, and I recognized it was going to be a big job. But, I think the way everything happened made it so clear that it had to be of the Lord. Susan: You’ve had such a successful presidency and an unusually long tenure. What do you believe are the keys to leading a university? John: I think focus — to just really stay focused on the job. It’s interesting that, in some ways, there’s a high accountability: Every word is measured. In another way, I could be gone and people wouldn’t quite know. But, I think the secret for longevity is to stay in the moment and keep the learning curve going because, about the time you think you have it figured out, things change. You have to stay engaged. Another key is to not to let your world shrink down to the point when the only
thing you know or care about is Olivet. As much as we care about Olivet, I serve Olivet better when I have a wider view. So, getting out in the community, getting involved with the general Church, associating with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities — those things help me keep the wide view. Any kind of senior leadership is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. So, there’s a pacing which you learn over time. I also think you have to allow an organization to change — in the best sense of that. If you freeze in time, you’re suddenly out of step. So, the secret is to change without changing the core — so that an alumnus could come back at Homecoming, after maybe being gone 40 years, and be a little overwhelmed by what they see but say within their own spirit it’s still Olivet. Amber: You’ve told the Olivet story so well over the years. In it, you talk about birth moments, disasters, rebirth and growth. Now, your own story is 30 years of that existence. How do you hope people will talk about your time at Olivet? John: I’d never really thought about that until recently, and I still don’t have a good answer necessarily. I think it’s probably not for me to say. I did feel such a strong sense of stewardship throughout my time — that this place was given to us … Jill: … to maintain. And we don’t want to mess it up! When we were students, it just seemed as though there was an emphasis on the fact that Olivet had been built on the shoulders of people who really sacrificed and gave. I’ve seen pictures of big snows on campus, and the professors are out there shoveling. Everybody did a little bit of everything. We’ve also seen pictures of student parties which professors put on for the students. We still feel that historical connection to keep that from those first people that started Olivet, and we’ve wanted to keep that legacy alive and make sure that it doesn’t get diminished. John: Yes! The sacrifice of those folks was significant. They sold property and they mortgaged homes, and they gave money they didn’t have in the hopes that this would happen. We also had the luxury and blessing of being connected at Olivet for so long. We knew former president Dr. Reed personally, and I had also heard Dr. Willingham speak when I was a student. He was the president who had financially rescued the school. Early in my presidency, I remember taking a group of current students and older alumni from here to “Old Olivet.” When that group of alumni got off the buses at Olivet, Illinois, they were young again. While we were there, we formed a big circle — the “O” for Olivet — and prayed and gave thanks. I just love the Olivet story and have enjoyed developing a way to tell it over the years. In some ways, I think it’s more important to tell that story now. Every student has a unique life story, yet we all desire to belong to a bigger story. So, I think that if I can say to incoming freshmen, “You are stepping into a stream that’s been moving for hundreds of years,” that gives them a greater context of the scope and significance of Olivet. I always wish those early families from “Old Olivet” could be in the balcony of Centennial Chapel on the first day of school. I think they would say, “It was worth it.” 48 OLIVET.EDU
Amber: Is there a place on campus where you like to sit, reflect, observe and pray? John: Almost every morning when I leave the house, Jill is getting her coffee in a little sunroom in our house with her Bible. During seasons of campus growth over the years, I developed little traditions. For example, when we were building Centennial, I would get a coffee and a scone in the morning, pull into the parking lot behind the construction site, and would sit and pray for the building and the students. I did that for probably 15–16 months. Another thing that we didn’t set out to do — it just happened — is at the end of Commencement. After a morning when 10–15,000 people were here for both graduations, by 5 o’clock, the place is empty. One year when we were living on campus, I came home after the second graduation ceremony and said, “I’m talked out, but do you want to go for a walk?” So, we changed clothes, walked the campus, processed the day a little and then got a pizza. We’ve now done that almost every year. Susan: Olivet’s campus has been transformed during your time. You both have the obvious gift of designing extraordinary buildings that enhance our students’ experience. Are there building projects you are most proud of, and why? John: I think of that statement of Winston Churchill. After World War II, when London was destroyed and they were rebuilding, he said, “At first we shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us.” There is something about a campus environment — old buildings and new together — that provides that sense of history but also a long-view vision for the future. When we were building the Weber Center, which was a transformative building because it moved the academic work to the other side of the campus, we initially had a two-story building spec’d. We were in a meeting with the architects and Jill said, “How much would it cost to add a third floor?” I’m thinking, “I can’t raise money for TWO floors!” But she had that same forward-thinking vision of building the campus for what will be, not what is. Every once in a while now, we’ll drive by Weber and she’ll say, “You know, it could have been two floors.” Jill: Almost from Day One, it was filled. We definitely needed that third floor! Amber: Let’s be honest: If you don’t take care of the buildings and grounds and the little details, it’s hard to believe you’ll take care of my son or daughter. John: Yes! In fact, that philosophy really shaped Jill’s input on the Admissions Center. That is probably our favorite building because it’s the first point of contact for lots of families. For example, Jill told the design folks not to put the welcome desk right at the front. Now, normally, you’d come into a building and there’d be someone right at the front door. But, she said, “People are going to come in nervous and tired from their journey. Give them time to come in and settle first.” Jill: When we were talking about building designs, we really wanted
to show that we are intentionally expecting those prospective students and their families. When I first stepped foot on this campus in the fall of 1956 as an 8-year-old, I remember feeling so confident that I was going to go to Olivet. I wanted to create an environment where other people felt that same inherent connection to campus. John: And, of course, Centennial Chapel has been transformative — primarily for our students but also as an open door to the community. There were a lot of reasons why you wouldn’t raise and spend the money for this chapel building because the campus, of course, has lots of needs, and we did already have a space for chapel. But we knew this building was going to be here for 100 years. Jill: I have to go on record that, at the time the idea of building this chapel came up, it was not a really popular idea. Prices were high; steel was high; the recession had hit. I wasn’t even in support of such a project. But, of course, it has become just an incredible building. The Sounds of the Season and Messiah performances, the grade school and high school graduations that are here, the organ concerts in memory of Ovid Young — there have been so many incredible opportunities to connect in the building. Susan: You’ve transformed Olivet’s relationship with the local community during your time as president. Was that a goal when you came in, or did it naturally happen? John: I think that reaching out to the community was natural but also intentional. Early on, Jill and I decided that whenever we’re invited, we’ll say yes, even though we felt like outsiders a little bit. But, little by little over the years, we started building relationships. Of course, the truth is that Olivet is not separate from the community: Our faculty and staff live here; their kids go to school here; our graduates work in the community. So, to kind of move from “us-them” to a “we” has been very important. When I first started, I felt that people in the community weren’t sure if they should come use or explore our campus. Now, it has flipped. Every school has their eighth grade and high school graduations here. Plus, we had the Chicago Bears for 18 years — that was huge. I really do think it’s personally showing up and investing well in people outside of our campus. When someone opens the program to see who’s sponsoring the symphony or something, Olivet’s logo needs to be there. One thing that I’ve realized and we’ve experienced is that we don’t have to change who we are to engage the community.
In fact, I think the community would be disappointed if they felt like Olivet was lowering its standards. They don’t necessarily have to agree with everything we believe, but they can be proud of Olivet. I hope that sentiment will last when I’m gone — that the community will continue to see Olivet as an asset. I do want to say a hearty thank-you to this community for welcoming us and providing tons of support for Olivet in all kinds of ways! Amber: Dr. Bowling, when you think of the role Jill has played beside you, what do you wish people knew about her tremendous support and what she does behind the scenes that really allows you to be such a successful president? John: Jill is very passionate for Olivet. I think, sometimes, a spouse might be perceived as just there. But people do recognize the details in the public events like Homecoming and the President’s Dinner, and Jill has been really influential on those outward-facing opportunities. She’s really focused on details because details matter. I think that’s just steadfastness. Every night, I still watch her kneel by the bed to pray for Olivet. Jill: I really wanted Olivet to just flourish and be seen for how wonderful it was; I just wanted Olivet on the map. I didn’t want people to say, “Where’s Bourbonnais?” or “What’s Olivet?” John: Several years ago, everyone seemed to be reading the Prayer of Jabez. One of the lines in the prayer says, “Extend our borders, our boundaries.” It was right at that time that the Chicago Bears started to talk to us about hosting their summer training camp, which I was nervous about. I thought we might be asking for trouble. But Jill said to me, “I’ve been praying that, somehow, we could capture the attention of Chicago and the 7 million people who are on our doorstep. If we say
yes to the training camp, rather than us go to Chicago, they’re going to come to us.” So, she said, “Get a prayer team together so you don’t do anything foolish; get the radio station involved so we can broadcast; and we need to put Bibles in all the rooms for the players.” It was her idea. So, when we signed the contracts, I said to the coaches, “Just FYI, we’re putting Bibles in the rooms — kind of like they do at hotels.” One of the coaches said, “Well, they’ll probably take them,” which, of course, was our intention. So, then we also put devotional books in the rooms. Jill wanted those young men to see the Olivet difference and have access to resources if they wanted them. The Bears were here for 18 years, and we didn’t have any issues! Amber: The students have thoroughly loved the two of you — everything from hanging out at your house to performing in musicals with you, going to chapel and attending church with you. Is there anything that you’re going to miss the most about the students? John: We will miss being part of this community, one of faith and learning — the Olivet family. We’re especially going to miss the vibrancy of the students. I know I’m not objective, but I think we just have outstanding students. … Early on, I remember Jill saying to me, “Now, remember, you can’t fool the kids.” By that, she meant students know if you’re genuine and if you’re leveling with them. They don’t have to know all the details of every given situation — some of it you can’t share. But, if you’re not straight with them, they figure that out really fast. Academically, our grads go wherever they want to go. And, they’re service-oriented even with little things. A couple years ago, some students asked if they could TP our house. I mean, that’s just really, really kind. Jill: We were like, “Are you kidding? We’ll buy you the toilet paper. Please do!”
Amber: Since you’ve been president, approximately 32,000 students have walked across the stage, shaken your hand, collected a diploma and went out to change the world. Is there anything you want to say one last time? John: I always feel like these relationships are two-way streets. Hopefully, we’ve been able to contribute to those students. But if they will just pass that on — if they’ll help somebody, volunteer somewhere, if they’ll be people of faith in this crazy world — they’ll make such a huge impact on their communities, in their social circles and within their industries. Students should seize the day and make the most of it, enjoy it and cherish the friendships along the way. Jill: There’s nothing our students can’t do. The world is theirs! Susan: You’ve been involved with the University for almost 50 years. What do you hope the next 50 years will include for the University? John: I’m very optimistic about it. I do think the next chapter of Christian higher education is going to be taxing. There are a lot of headwinds now which we’re already dealing with, but it will likely get worse. At the same time, I think this is the ripe, wonderful moment for a place like Olivet. When the world gets dark, the Light shines brighter. So, I think the future will be different, but that’s OK. I think Olivet is positioned to stay true to its mission, and that will be the key. We have to be able to demonstrate that Olivet is worth the cost, which is an investment; it’s not an expense. But, I think the staff, the culture, the flow of the University is moving in that direction. It’s funny when you think about 50 years. You think that’s so far out. In reality, 30 years went really quickly. It’s going to be fun to see what happens next. Jill: Yes, 50 years does sound like a lot. But, at Commencement, the class from 50 years ago comes back and one of them speaks a message of encouragement over the graduating class. Beyond surprising the students that the 72-year-olds can still walk and don’t look too bad, that tradition says to everyone that the shadow of this institution is a long shadow. Fifty years from today, you’ll be talking about lessons you’ve learned on campus. When students leave this campus, they don’t yet know what it’s going to mean when they’re in their 50s and 60s to sit around and talk about their good old days here. But they will!
Susan: Is there one word you hope people will always associate with your leadership?
Amber: How can we pray for you as you move into this next chapter of life?
John: Well, the word that just popped in my head, which sounds a little self-serving, is excellence. I hope people remember that things were done with excellence. I think that’s God-honoring, though; I don’t think that’s an ego-borne thing. Shouldn’t something that represents the Kingdom be the best it can be? I hope for excellence of stewardship. Olivet doesn’t belong to me. I was just handed it, and I am about to hand it on — hopefully in better shape than it was.
John: When I first announced that I was retiring, there was some pushback to stay, but I really felt like the timeline of our life and that of the University was just right for me to move on. I feel strongly that sometimes leaving is a part of leadership — so, prayer support that we would not only demonstrate how to live in this community but also how to say goodbye in the best sense of that. Jill: I just hope that what we’ve done here made an impact. For instance, I’ll think, “OK, the class of 2019, who were they? What did I do that year for the students? Did I do everything I could have?” I guess just pray that whatever we did, whether we knew it or not, that it made a difference. John: A few weeks ago, Jill said to me, “I’ve been thinking about those people who built the cathedrals in Europe. You know, some of those building projects spanned 200 years. Some people worked every day of their lives and never got to see the end result.” She said, “That’s kind of where we are.” We’ve been building at Olivet, but we won’t see the end result for most people. We’ve been building a place to honor God, a place to gather. So, that was helpful for me to frame this 30-year experience. Really, all a person can do is improve the moment and be a good steward. It’s an odd time for us. We’ve never done this before — never retired. Because of the nature of my work and Olivet, this decision means a complete deconstruction of our life. It’s not like I just quit working, but I still have the same house, friends, church, barber, dentist and all that. We will completely move. So, you can look at the loss, and there certainly is a loss. Or, you can look at it and say, “Wow. So, the God Who’s been faithful in the past, is He not going to be faithful in the next chapter?” We just don’t yet know what that’s going to look like. When I was first installed at College Church, a woman said to me, “You’re the pastor at College Church? How did you do that at such a young age?” I said, “I don’t think I had anything to do with it.” So, continuing to lean into that obedience, we just have to take the next step.
Susan: What are some of the adventures that you’re looking forward to in retirement? John: We’ve been on an academic schedule, in some ways, our whole lives. I love the opening of school. There’s just such anticipation. Jill: The moving in and the parents dropping kids off and everybody’s so excited … John: Yes, you get a new start. So, I do think it will be odd when late August rolls around and we aren’t gearing up for that start. My guess is that we’ll plan to be somewhere doing something. It would be nice to be out of the country somewhere, but, of course, COVID impacts that. As far as what’s next in life, we don’t have a clear plan yet. Part of the reason is that Olivet’s been our whole existence. It’s not like we had a hobby or side business or something that we were going to do. Jill said to me not too long ago, “I can’t believe we won’t have anything to do” — to which I replied, “The other side of that coin is we can do anything we want to do.” Many of our friends who have retired by now tell me that they’re busier than ever. So, I think there’s a sense in which life fills in the gaps. We’d like to find a way to plug into probably a compassionate ministry somewhere. Our whole life has been showered with blessings, so we need to find ways to continue to give back. We’d like to be able to rent an apartment in Israel for a while. We’ve been there and visited the sights, but it would be different to live there for a while. We also really enjoy England, so we thought about going there for a while. Regardless, our first thought is to take a year to separate and let our spirit catch up with us. We’ve gone a million miles an hour for the past 50 years, so it will be good to decompress. COVID has been an interesting avenue to help us prepare. A lot of the very special campus life moments we normally enjoy, we haven’t had this past year. Jill: We didn’t have a last Homecoming Weekend. We didn’t have a last President’s Dinner. I mean, we did, but we didn’t know it was the last. I think it made the transition easier. We weren’t thinking about or mourning the last, the last, the last. It’s kind of a crazy thing, but we’ve been pretty content to move on.
“We’ve been building a place to honor God, a place to gather.”
Leadership for all seasons
Dr. John Carl Bowling from Tipp City, Ohio, was elected as the 12th president of Olivet Nazarene University during a meeting of the Board of Trustees on July 16, 1991. He replaced Dr. Leslie Parrott ’44, who was the University’s president from Aug. 1, 1975, to Aug. 6, 1991. At the time of his election, Dr. Bowling was the senior pastor at College Church of the Nazarene in Bourbonnais. The president-elect and Jill would only have to walk across University Avenue (formerly Olivet Street) to begin their 30-year ministry at ONU. Change requires stability While Olivet’s main campus sits on an unchanging terrain in Kankakee County, Illinois, the institution resides in a vastly altered social, technological and economic environment. This current space is incomparable to three decades ago when Dr. Bowling became president. COVID-19 has only added to the challenges facing all educational institutions. A 2018 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggested being a college president was one of the “toughest” jobs in America.1 Case in point: In the last three years, 38 Christian college presidents have left their positions, according to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Longevity of Leadership The terms of three presidents, Dr. Harold W. Reed, Dr. Parrott and Dr. Bowling, span 72 of 114 years, the University having been established in 1907 at Olivet, Illinois. Except for two noticeably short tenures in
the late 1940s, Olivet has had only five presidents in 95 years — from 1926 to 2021. 2 What makes Olivet’s presidential durations remarkable is that the average tenure of college presidents at both public and private institutions is 6 ½ years, according to an American Council on Education study published in 2016. Based on Council research, the average tenure for presidents of Christian colleges is 8 ½ years. Frequent turnover in the administration can be harmful to a school’s health and the implementation of its mission. Yet, staying too long poses its own set of risks. Striking the right balance becomes a stabilizing force, especially in troublesome times. A Teachable Moment Leadership and longevity are not the same things. There must be something more than availability to qualify an executive for an extended term of service. What can be learned from Dr. Bowling’s 30 years of momentous service as president of Olivet Nazarene University? His effectiveness as a leader is tied to the discipline of managing himself first. Dr. Bowling made spiritual and administrative preparedness a priority. The goal of Christian leadership is a combination of trust and consistently strong moral character.
“The character and structure of an organization are determined at its origins — for the birth of an organization always requires some initial defining marker of difference.” — William Bergquist, Ph.D.
Dr. Bowling respected the past but was energized to help create Olivet’s future. His gift of communicating the ONU story will be one of his defining traits. He led from a conviction that “Education With a Christian Purpose” should be fulfilled in succeeding generations and worked toward that end. There was fidelity to Olivet’s sponsoring denomination, the Church of the Nazarene, and its Wesleyan-holiness teaching. This theological identity is a cornerstone of the University. Constituencies are many for a university president, but Dr. Bowling never forgot that Olivet exists first and foremost for its students. He and Jill cared for them as if they were their own. Back to the Beginning The power to accomplish the impossible comes from God — and is for His purpose and glory. What, then, is the principal lesson from Olivet’s storied history? That the Lord’s faithfulness is the defining difference. During this presidential transition, we are reminded once again that divinity, not humanity, is the preeminent leadership for all seasons.
Russ Bredholt Jr. is president of Bredholt & Co., a management consulting firm in Winter Springs, Florida. Russ and Dr. Bowling are both members of the class of 1971.
1Andy Thomason, “Is College President the Toughest Job in the Nation?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2018. 2Leslie Parrott, Ph.D., The Olivet Story, The Barclay Press, 1993; Kratina Simmons, Olivet Archives: Dr. T.W. Willingham (1926–1938), Dr. A. L. Parrott (1938–1945), Dr. Harold W. Reed (1949–1975), Dr. A. Leslie Parrott (1975–1991), and Dr. John C. Bowling (1991–2021).
STORY BY LAUREN BEATTY
Years of Leadership and Legacy In May 2021, University President Dr. John C. Bowling ’71/’72 M.A. enters a season of retirement — 50 years after his own graduating class celebrated the completion of their college careers. As he and his wife, Jill (Cheeseman) ’70/’89 MBA, move forward to the next chapter of life and new adventures, we’re taking a look at the Bowlings’ life at Olivet through their leadership and legacy.
Dr. John C. Bowling is a living legend at Olivet. A man of many talents, he has made an invaluable mark on Olivet and the surrounding community. Dr. Bowling, lovingly referred to as “Dr. B” by students, is known for his impeccable hair, distinctive eyewear, genuine smile and amazing oratory skills. Some may know him from his time as an undergraduate student, a graduate student, a faculty member, the pastor of College Church or the husband of their resident director, Jill. Others will remember his memorable chapel messages, commitment to community partnership and generosity. But there are many more facets to Olivet’s longest-serving president. In tribute to an outstanding president, let’s look back on Dr. Bowling’s life and celebrate his many milestones and accomplishments. How It Started John Carl Bowling was born on Jan. 13, 1949, to Betty and Vernon Bowling in Tipp City, Ohio. A first-generation college student, he decided to attend Olivet College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, after becoming familiar with the school through two of his childhood pastors. His freshman year at Olivet had a famously rocky start when an emergency appendectomy forced him to start classes a week late. However, he quickly settled in, choosing to major in religion. In his downtime, he lent his musical abilities to the Olivetians ensemble and the Collegians quartet. The summer following his graduation, on July 3, 1971, John married Jill Cheeseman. The couple actually met at church camp in high school but didn’t date until just after Olivet’s Homecoming festivities during her senior year. The first year after college, John completed his first master’s degree at Olivet. The Bowlings then moved to Texas to pursue further degrees and gain practical experience. John began doctoral studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and later at Southern Methodist University. Jill graduated in 1976 from the University of Texas with a master’s degree in environmental science. In the late 1970s, the Bowlings returned to Olivet, where Jill served as the resident director of Williams Hall, continuing her love of cultivating relationships with students, and John joined the faculty in the Division of Religion and Philosophy. In 1983, the senior pastor
position at College Church opened, and John transitioned into a full-time ministry role. When Olivet’s Board of Trustees elected him as president in 1991, John received a middle-of-the-night phone call to alert him of the news — which came as a shock, considering that he wasn’t one of the final two names submitted to the Board for voting. Of course, he graciously accepted the position and has remained in the role for 30 years. How It’s Going Together, the Bowlings have traveled to 43 countries and 47 states during their 50 years of marriage, including multiple Universityrelated trips to see the Tiger Marching Band perform in London and Rome and to tour Israel with a group of alumni and friends. Believing so much in the importance of expanding worldviews through travel, the Bowlings have been known to donate money to student missions trips. To date, 220 students have directly benefited from their support of travel. As a longstanding patron of the arts and theatre, John has performed on the Kresge Auditorium stage in two featured roles in Olivet musicals, Little Women and Guys and Dolls. He also was a soloist in an Olivet Concert Band performance of Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter.” Additionally, John has provided narration for many Sounds of the Season concerts; has made cameo appearances in Ollies Follies and Mr. ONU videos; and has been famously featured in many student video projects. The Bowlings’ support of student activities has extended into the University’s extensive athletic offerings as well. During his time as president, John and Jill have cheered on Olivet Tigers from each of the 22 varsity athletic teams. As leaders of the University, John and Jill have frequently hosted students, faculty, staff and alumni for dinners and other events in their homes over the years, including an annual freshman picnic when they lived in the Hardy C. Powers President’s House (the building now known as the Elwood Center for Student Success). During his entire Olivet experience, John has lived in eight campus residences: Chapman Hall, Main South, Hills Hall, Williams Hall (when Jill was a resident director), the first Mary Scott Missionary House, Goodwin Hall (now the Harlow E. Hopkins Alumni Center), the Hardy C. Powers President’s House and the Reedy House (the current president’s home).
With a passion for higher education and a commitment to lifelong learning, John holds a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and two earned doctorates, and he was chosen as a resident fellow for postdoctoral studies at Harvard University. In 2007, he was honored by Olivet with the conferral of a Doctor of Divinity degree as part of the University’s centennial celebration. During his 30 years as University president, John congratulated nearly 13,000 undergraduate and 18,000 graduate students as he conferred their degrees from Olivet. A passionate academic, John has authored seven books, one of which was co-authored with Jill; contributed to six other books; and published more than 68 articles. In fact, through the sale of his books, royalties from speaking engagements and personal gifts, the Bowlings have contributed more than $750,000 toward student scholarships at Olivet. The University has made significant strides toward becoming a nationally recognized and world-class institution throughout John’s 30-year presidency. Olivet consistently ranks well above its peers in third-party endorsements, including Best Christian Workplaces, Colleges of Distinction and U.S. News & World Report. In 2021, the University was ranked as the No. 2 Best Value School for regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News. Over the course of his tenure, John has provided leadership for the construction or acquisition of 61 new buildings and the major remodeling of 27 community buildings for University use. Additionally, he and Jill have helped enhance student life opportunities; raised millions of dollars and helped expand development efforts; established the ONU Global online graduate programs; opened the campus to the Chicago Bears summer training camp for 18 years; and encouraged the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, surrounding schools, and guest artists and musicians to use campus facilities for concerts, theatrical productions, graduation ceremonies and conferences of all kinds. If that alone doesn’t demonstrate John’s commitment to excellence in the greater community, he also made his mark as a long-serving member of the boards of directors of six local organizations.
John was twice elected to serve as general superintendent for the international Church of the Nazarene, but he never felt called to leave Olivet. However, he has actively served within the Church of the Nazarene beyond his capacity as University president. He was a member of the General Board for 16 years, including eight as president; served as a member and chair of the board of directors for the Nazarene Publishing House; was a founding member of the board of directors for the Church of the Nazarene Foundation; was a member of the International Board of Education for the Church of the Nazarene; participated as a delegate to eight General Assemblies; served as a professor at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and spoke numerous times at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Additional awards and recognitions that John has received over the years include the CASE District V Chief Executive Leadership Award; the Kankakee Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year; the Community Alliance Beacon Award in recognition of service, vision, and leadership in the community; the Samaritan of the Year award from the Riverside Healthcare Foundation; a Citation of Merit from Provena St. Mary’s Hospital; the YMCA Ray Lindner Service to Youth Award; the Community Alliance Beacon Award for community service; the Lifetime Achievement Award and Citizen of the Year award from The Daily Journal; a Citation of Appreciation from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools; and the Kankakee County Historical Society Award of Merit. In sum, Dr. John C. Bowling has wholeheartedly devoted the majority of his career to “Education With a Christian Purpose.” His time at the University has been purposeful, intentional and Spirit-led.
On behalf of the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Olivet Nazarene University, thank you, Dr. Bowling, for modeling a life of service to God and humanity. Your leadership will be missed, but your legacy of excellence will live on.
EXPERIENCE OLIVET The Office of Admissions offers several ways for prospective freshman and transfer students and their families to visit our beautiful campus! Whether you visit in person or online, or choose a personalized visit or energetic event day, our team of dedicated admissions counselors, financial aid representatives and guest services staff want to show you all that Olivet has to offer. PHOTO BY JONES FOTO
FinalFinal Thought Thoughts: In the course of my academic life as a student, I graduated several times. I received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from Olivet. I graduated with Master of Religious Education and Doctor of Education degrees from Southwestern Seminary. I graduated for a fifth time when I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Southern Methodist University. My last graduation was when I was honored with the Doctor of Divinity degree from Olivet.
We wave goodbye … and in so doing, we say, without saying it,
In addition to those moments, I have participated, as president, in undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies for the past 30 years and have spoken for several graduation ceremonies at other universities as well.
I am extremely thankful for my time at Olivet and for those with whom I have worked and for the thousands of students who have passed through on their way to lives of significance and service. What a privilege and what an honor! As the psalmist noted, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6).
One thing I have observed across the years is that commencements are backward events. No matter how many times people note that to commence means to begin, everything on graduation weekends suggests that those who are graduating are at an end. Classes have ended, textbooks are set aside and personal belongings are packed in preparation for the trip home. Dorm rooms and university apartments will soon be vacant. And in the midst of it all, graduates participate in what seems to be an endless string of goodbyes. A few years ago, Richard Rodriguez wrote and delivered an essay on saying goodbye for a broadcast on PBS. At one point, he spoke of the power of the nonverbal goodbyes of life: those moments when, across a crowded room, one waves a silent yet sincere goodbye. Waving goodbye is a simple act, but it is one that can be filled with deep emotion, laden with memories and embedded with strong yet silent messages. Rodriguez wrote, “There is, in the physical act of waving goodbye, an acknowledgment of all that we cannot hold. The hand is open, empty. We practice waving goodbye throughout our lives. It becomes a way of preparing ourselves for the loss of all that we love.” 1
“I will miss you.” “I have so enjoyed knowing you.” “I will never forget you.” Now, as I am preparing for the graduation of the class of 2021, I realize that this is my final commencement ceremony — my last goodbye.
Nonetheless, it is graduation time for me; my final commencement is at hand! As this chapter comes to a close, I think of the words of St. Paul, whose life was also filled with goodbyes. To his congregation in the city of Philippi, he wrote these words of benediction and blessing: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9) I read these words through two lenses. First, I receive them as words of advice for me. I am to “think about such things.” No one can provide senior leadership for a university across three decades without encountering some times of stress. Yet, as my time of services comes to an end, my focus is on the endless array of blessings and joys that have filled my time as president.
President John C. Bowling The second lens through which to view the words is as a recommendation for those who will continue to teach and staff the University in the days to come. To those who remain, I echo St. Paul’s admonition: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” To summarize John Wesley, “The God who took care of the universe before I was born will surely care for it when I am gone. My job is to improve the present moment.” I feel that way about Olivet. The God who took care of the University before I arrived will surely care for it when I am gone. Leland Stanford made a fortune in the early days of railroads. He went on to become governor of California and a U.S. senator, and, in 1885, he and his wife, Jane, founded Stanford University. The school, however, was not named for him but for his son, Leland Stanford Jr., who died of typhoid just before he turned 16. Leland Sr. and his wife were so devastated by the death of their only child that they resolved to build a university in his honor. Their aim was that, henceforth, “The children of California shall be our children.”
Jane embraced the long view of institutional life. She labored in the present — but always with an eye to the future. Today, her faint vision is a thriving reality. With that in mind, I, too, am thinking about the future of Olivet, confident that for generations to come, the children of our children’s children shall come to this campus from the East, North, South and West. Therefore, I am looking forward and leaning into the future rather than lamenting the end of my time at Olivet. I assume that at the close of the graduation day this May, I will turn and wave one last time. In that moment, I will recall the passage from Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 1Rodriguez, Richard. (2009, January 20). As Obama Takes Office, Another President Says Good-bye [Television broadcast transcript]. PBS NewsHour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/ show/as-obama-takes-office-another-president-says-good-bye 2Stanford University Annual Report 2010. Retrieved from https://annualreport.stanford.edu/2010/chairletter.html?view=print
Unfortunately, Leland Sr. died just two years after the founding of the school, and the university was thrown into turmoil. Jane stepped in to steer the university through more than 10 difficult years — at significant personal sacrifice. She retired as a trustee in 1904, turning the university over to its first independent board. Among her closing remarks, she said, Through all these years, I have kept a mental picture before me. I could see a hundred years ahead when all the present trials were forgotten, and all of the present active parties gone, and nothing remaining but the institution. I could see beyond all of this the children’s children’s children coming here from the East, the West, the North and the South.2 OLIVET.EDU
million dollars in financial aid awarded last year to ONU students
percent of students receive financial aid
intercollegiate athletic teams compete in NAIA and NCCAA
local ministry and global mission trip opportunities
AT A G LA N C E STUDENTS More than 3,700 — 2,500 undergraduates — from nearly every U.S. state, 21 countries and more than 40 religious denominations. ALUMNI Olivet Nazarene University has graduated many notable alumni who have given back to the University, the Olivet region, the Church and the world in so many ways. There are more than 40,000 living alumni making a worldwide impact. ACADEMICS More than 140 areas of study offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Professional Studies, School of Theology and Christian Ministry and the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Study-abroad opportunities have included Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, Egypt, Romania, Japan, Uganda, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. ACCREDITATION Includes the Higher Learning Commission, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council on Social Work Education, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training, the National Association of Schools of Music and the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. In addition, the teacher education program is a recognized education preparation provider by the Illinois State Board of Education. ATHLETICS At Olivet, student-athletes compete on 22 intercollegiate teams. Olivet provides competitive athletic awards and scholarships for qualifying candidates. Varsity teams for men include basketball, baseball, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Varsity teams for women include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. In addition to varsity sports, more than half the student body participate in Olivet’s thriving intramural and club sports programs. CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS More than 90 clubs and organizations representing diverse interests, including a campus newspaper, yearbook and literary magazine; Enactus; Student Philanthropy Council; ROTC; radio broadcasting (Shine.FM); numerous choral and instrumental ensembles (including University Marching Band and the University Orchestra); drama and musical theatre performances; intramural athletics; and community volunteer and spiritual life organizations.
CAMPUS Beautiful, park-like campus features 35 major buildings on 275 acres. Located in the Village of Bourbonnais, Illinois, just 45 miles south of Chicago’s Loop, with additional School of Graduate and Continuing Studies locations in Illinois. SPIRITUAL LIFE Christian community committed to making worship of God the central focus of our lives. Our faith in Jesus Christ cannot be separated from the educational experience, and we seek to honor God in all we learn, say and do. Through chapel services, each segment of the University community has the opportunity to join with others in worship and receive instruction in the Word and encouragement to serve. Notable and world-renowned speakers regularly address the Olivet community during chapel. GRADUATE STUDIES AND PROGRAMS Business: Bachelor of Applied Science in Business, Bachelor of Applied Science in Leadership, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Leadership, Master of Organizational Leadership, Master of Business Administration Education: Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction, Master of Arts in Education: English Language Learners, Bilingual Endorsement, Safety and Driver’s Education Endorsement, English as a Second Language Endorsement, Learning Behavior Specialist Endorsement, Reading Endorsement, Teacher Leader Endorsement Multidisciplinary Studies: Bachelor of Applied Science in Multidisciplinary Studies and Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies Nursing: Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-B.S.N.), Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing (RN-M.S.N.), Master of Science in Nursing: Education, Master of Science in Nursing: Leadership/Management, Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Ministry: Master of Arts: Christian Ministry, Master of Arts: Family Ministry, Master of Arts: Ministerial Studies, Master of Arts: Missional Multiplication, Master of Arts: Pastoral Ministry, Master of Arts in Religion, Master of Arts in Pastoral Leadership, Master of Arts: Urban Ministry, Master of Ministry, Master of Ministry in Spanish, Master of Divinity Doctor of Education: Ethical Leadership
advanced degrees offered through the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies
intramural sports and tournaments with more than 1,540 participants each year
study-abroad opportunities and numerous mission opportunities available
student-to-faculty ratio, with a total enrollment of more than 3,700
percent career outcomes rate for class of 2019
Statistics compiled from 2019, 2020 and/or 2021.
AREAS OF STUDY Accounting Actuarial Science Art Art - Graphic Design Art - Drawing/Painting Art - Media Arts Art - Photography Art Education Biblical Languages Biblical Studies Biology Business Administration Business - Healthcare Management Business - Human Resource Management Business - Management Business - Philanthropy/ Not-for-Profit Business - Operations Management Business - Public Administration Chemistry Chemistry - Biochemistry Chemistry - Forensics Child Development Children’s Ministry Christian Education Christian Studies Communication Studies Computer Science – Networking & Data Communications
Computer Science Software Development Computer Science Software Entrepreneurship Corporate Communication Criminal Justice Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Cybersecurity Data Science Dietetics Early Childhood Education Earth & Space Science Economics Economics & Finance Applied Economics Economics & Finance Certified Financial Planning Economics & Finance Corporate Finance Elementary Education Engineering - Architectural Engineering - Chemical Engineering - Civil Engineering - Computer Engineering - Electrical Engineering - Mechanical English English as a Second Language English as a Second Language Education English Education Environmental Science Exercise Science
Family & Consumer Sciences Family & Consumer Sciences Hospitality Fashion Merchandising Finance French Geography Geological Science Greek Health Education Hebrew History Intercultural Studies Interior Design International Business Leadership Studies Legal Studies Literature Management Management Information Systems Marketing Marketing - Commercial Graphics Marketing - Corporate Relations Marketing - International Marketing - Management Mathematics Mathematics Education Military Affairs Military Science Ministerial Missions Multimedia Communication
Multimedia Communication Film Studies Multimedia Communication Journalism Multimedia Communication Live Event Media Mgmt. Multimedia Communication Ministry Media Multimedia Communication Radio/Record Industry Multimedia Communication TV/Video Production Music Music Composition Music Education Music Ministry Music Performance Musical Theatre Nursing Pastoral Ministry Philosophy Philosophy & Religion Photography Physical Education Physical Sciences Political Science Pre-Art Therapy Pre-Dental Pre-Law Pre-Medicine Pre-Optometry Pre-Pharmacy Pre-Physical Therapy Pre-Physician’s Assistant
Pre-Seminary Pre-Veterinary Psychology Public Policy - Domestic Public Policy - Foreign Public Relations & Strategic Communication Recreation, Sports & Fitness Religious Studies Science Education - Biology Science Education - Chemistry Science Education Earth/Space Science Social Science Social Science Education Social Work Sociology Spanish Spanish Education Special Education Sport Management Theatre Theology Writing Youth Ministry Zoology
BENEDICTION A PRAYER FOR OLIVET Composed by Dr. John C. Bowling in anticipation of his retirement in 2021, following 30 years as president of Olivet
Oh God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, We give You thanks for Olivet Nazarene University. This is Your school, established by Your hand, sustained by Your grace and blessing. As we set our sights on the future, provide for us a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Grant that we will continue to be a faith community characterized by spiritual vitality and a commitment to excellence in teaching, learning and service to others. The psalmist speaks of “One generation commending Your works to another.” May Olivet forever be such a place. We thank You for those who have led this university in days gone by and for the Godly men and women who now fill the offices and classrooms of this campus. You have bestowed many gifts upon Olivet. Would You also pour out Your Spirit in a fresh anointing for the work that now lies before us? We pray these things in confidence, knowing that You are a God Who does all things well. In Jesus’ name, AMEN
OLIVET NAZARENE UNIVERSITY ONE UNIVERSITY AVENUE BOURBONNAIS, IL 60914-2345
The John C. & Jill Bowling Scholarship Endowment In honor of John and Jill Bowling, and in recognition of their 30 years of leadership at Olivet Nazarene University, we invite you to support the John and Jill Bowling Scholarship Fund for Olivet students. This funding initiative will endow their legacy in perpetuity, giving valuable support to those they loved and served: the students of Olivet Nazarene University. To make a gift, visit Olivet.edu/BowlingEndowment