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The Business Building is Named After a Science Professor

The Business Building is Named After a Science Professor

George Bowers working in the Science Building chemistry lab.

Who was George Bowers? 

By Ben Wexler 

You might be confused as to how our business building, Bowers Hall, got its name from a chemistry professor and was once home to science, history, and archeology departments over the course of our university’s rich history. [1] 

Bowers Hall is one of the most historical buildings on campus and was built in 1924. For 30 years after its construction, however, it was called science hall. It wasn’t until 1955 that the building was named after the University’s 13th president, George Bowers. [2] 

George Bowers.
Bowers was the 13th principal of Walla Walla College, now Walla Walla University.

George Bowers arrived at Walla Walla with a master’s degree in biology from the University of Nebraska to head our science department in 1925. He taught all the chemistry and biology courses, and 13 years later, in 1938, he became president of the University. Even as president, he continued to teach science courses in Science Hall. [3] 

In his first years at the University, Bowers could be found in basement of the science building working on his dissertation, “The Reactivity of Chlorine in Naphthalene Compounds,” to earn his doctorate in chemistry. [4] Around campus, Bowers was known for the investment that he made not only in the education offered, but his contributions to improve the campus morale and cohesion. He and his wife Clara instituted regular faculty potluck suppers, faculty vespers services, and even invited each graduating senior to his home for supper. [5-6] 

Bowers ended his presidency in 1955 and served for 17 years, the longest term of any president the University has seen. After he resigned as president, the board renamed the science building to Bowers Hall where George Bowers continued to chair the chemistry department until he retired in 1965. It wasn’t until 2009 that the school of business moved to Bowers Hall.  [7] 

George Bowers standing in front of Bowers Hall.
What Bowers Hall looked like with its namesake, George Bowers, stood out front.

Most notably, during his 17-year term that extended through and after WWII, Bowers’ contributions resulted in the college doubling in size, the number of graduates increase four times, a doubling of teaching staff, and the creation of six new departments. [8] 

Bowers described one of his many side hobbies in a 1978 issue of The Collegian, where he showed off a pair of blue gloves that he knit from a complex pattern that he created. A man of even more talents, he also built his own house and cared for a flourishing garden. [9] 

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George Bowers passed away in 1986 and was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery. One of the many legacies that he left in our community, the George Bowers excellence in chemistry scholarship supports students as they complete chemistry degrees. [10] 

Today, the desks and private rooms endlessly occupied by study groups make it clear that Bowers Hall, recently renovated in December 2017 with an atrium extension, has become one of the most popular spaces for both business and non-business majors. In the lobby of Bowers, you’ll find a portrait of George Bowers with his signature thick, gold-framed glasses. [11] 

Bowers Hall renovation in 2017.
Bowers Hall received its modern renovation in 2017 featuring the large glass atrium.

Regardless of the changing campus needs that has rearranged department locations, student social spaces, and administration offices, we’re thankful for the individuals who have shaped the community we are now able to call our own.  

References  

  1. Bowers Hall Renovation. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/marketing-and-university-relations/publications/westwind/westwind-extras/summer-2017/bowers-hall/  
  1. Thomsen, K. (1978, April 20). George Bowers has watched WWC grow. The Collegian.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Endowed scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/  
  1. Thomsen, K. (1978, April 20). George Bowers has watched WWC grow. The Collegian.  
  1. Bowers Hall Renovation. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/marketing-and-university-relations/publications/westwind/westwind-extras/summer-2017/bowers-hall/  
  1. Endowed scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/  
  1. Thomsen, K. (1978, April 20). George Bowers has watched WWC grow. The Collegian.  
  1. Endowed scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/  
  1. Thomsen, K. (1978, April 20). George Bowers has watched WWC grow. The Collegian.  
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