Elizabethtown College alumni Kenneth L. and Rosalie E. Bowers have agreed to donate $5 million over time to the college’s capital campaign that was launched last year.
Ken Bowers graduated from the college in the class of 1959; Rosalie Bowers is a member of the class of 1958. In recognition of their generous support, the college announced on Monday, May 1, that it will name a new $23.4 million facility, The Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Wellness. A portion of their support also will provide for the long-term sustainability of the new facility and other programs. Construction on The Bowers Center is scheduled to begin in fall 2017 with expected completion by December 2018.
With this gift, more than $45 million has been raised, to date, for the campaign, including $37 million in cash and cash commitments and an additional $8 million in bequest expectancies, toward the campaign goal of $50 million. The campaign was publicly launched in March 2016.
The more-than-78,000-square foot Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Wellness has been designed to house wellness programming, intramural and club sports as well as intercollegiate athletics. With group fitness studios, cardio, strength and conditioning areas, a track, wellness classrooms, meeting and gathering spaces for students, a cafe, a spin studio, training and athletic treatment areas and office space for health educators and campus recreation, College President Carl Strikwerda said the new center will be for “every student, every day.”
“Rosalie and I have admired Elizabethtown College over the past 62 years, first as students and then as alumni,” said Ken Bowers. “In short, we are very proud of this institution and are pleased to provide financial support for its continued growth and development.”
The couple met on the Elizabethtown campus in 1955, earned bachelor’s degrees and were high school teachers. Rosalie Bowers taught English and Spanish. Ken taught English and journalism. Rosalie earned her master’s degree in library science at Drexel University and Ken earned his in communications at Penn State. They married in 1960.
From 1961 to 1967 they returned to Elizabethtown College, where Ken became sports information director and taught journalism for the college. Rosalie was a librarian at the college; she also taught Spanish.
The couple moved to the New York area when Ken joined the public relations department at AT&T. Rosalie took her library expertise to Upsala College in New Jersey. In 1970, they returned to south-central Pennsylvania when Ken joined Hershey Foods to help establish a broadened public relations department. When they retired, Ken was vice president of corporate communications at Hershey Foods, and Rosalie was assistant corporate secretary at the former Pennsylvania Blue Shield.
“Rosalie and I have always been impressed with the college’s mission of educating students for service above self,” said Ken, who earned Elizabethtown College’s Educate for Service – Professional Achievement award and the Educate for Service – Service to the College award in 1989 and 1995, respectively. In 1999 Elizabethtown College gave Ken an honorary degree of doctor of commercial science. He joined the Elizabethtown College Board of Trustees in 1982 and actively served for 25 years, including serving as board chair for three years, beginning in 2000. Eight years later, he was awarded emeritus trustee status. Rosalie earned an Educate for Service – Service to the College award from Elizabethtown in 2016.
“Ken and Rosalie Bowers have lived out the college’s motto of ‘educate for service’ in their professional lives and community involvement,” Strikwerda said. “Their gift will help generations of students enjoy healthy recreation and enrich the life of the campus community.”
In recognition of their earlier giving, the college named a property adjacent to campus the Bowers Writers House.