Former President of Princeton William Bowen Dies!


Dear Commons Community,

William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University, who pressed elite colleges to give preference to poor and minority applicants, oversaw the first admission of women to Princeton University and expanded it academically, died last week at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 83.

The cause was colon cancer, a university spokesman said.  His New York Times obituary commented:

“As its popular provost and then president, Dr. Bowen was credited with transforming Princeton from a fusty, predominantly white male preserve to a more diverse and inclusive institution.

He was also a folksy presence on its New Jersey campus, often seen in sneakers, or riding his bicycle. The first member of his family to attend college, he was, at 31, among the youngest full professors in Princeton’s history, and even as an administrator he continued to teach freshman economics.

He was later president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, leading its support for cultural institutions, the humanities and higher education.

In 2012, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal for putting “theories into practice” in economics and higher education.

Before leaving Mellon in 2006, Dr. Bowen was instrumental in creating global electronic archives of scholarly journals and artistic images, including JSTOR, ARTstor and also Ithaka, which provides digital services to academia.”

Four years ago, Dr. Bowen was invited to speak here at the CUNY Graduate Center on higher education. Then Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Lexa Logue, invited him and several of us to dinner.  He was a dynamic individual full of ideas and very much interested in his work at Ithaka.


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