University honors Dowdens

Chris (left) and Blair (right) Dowden at the special ceremony on April 25. The university announced the naming of the Science Hall and the honorary titles at the ceremony. (Photo provided)

The university has announced that the Science Hall will be renamed the Dowden Science Hall and hosted several retirement events throughout the semester for President G. Blair Dowden. The events have provided an opportunity for alumni and university partners to bid farewell to the outgoing president as well as make contributions to the university in his name.

The Science Hall, which opened in 2002, was funded and built during Dowden’s 22-year tenure. The board of trustees announced the new name of the building at a special ceremony on April 25, and named the building in honor of the president and his wife, Chris.

“We will remember the two of you and will be forever grateful,” C. Ray Miller, former board of trustees chair, said. “Blair and Chris, we will remember.”

The Dowdens were also named President Emeritus and First Lady Emerita, respectively, by the board of trustes.

Vincent Haupert, vice president for advancement, has helped administrate the retirement events. He described the events as “properly acknowledging” the president’s retirement.

“Several people who attend these events are donors to the university,” Haupert said. “I thought, even if they’re not, from an advancement objective, it makes sense for me to be involved.”

There have already been five retirement ceremonies this semester, Haupert said. The Dowdens attended the two annual alumni events in Florida in January, and were first acknowledged there. In March, the university sponsored an event in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area to honor the president, which was followed by an early April date in Chicago. The latest event was in Indianapolis on April 16.

Haupert said that the events he has attended went well and the reception was good.

“In Blair fashion, he diverted the attention and deflected it to accomplishments the university has seen,” Haupert said. “Even more, he talked about the future of HU and why he is excited.”

Haupert said that the university has also established a Dowden Scholarship for Horizon Leaders. The Dowdens have asked that those wishing to make contributions to the university in their name donate to the endowed scholarship. Currently, $16,000 has been raised for the scholarship, which needs $20,000 to become fully endowed.

The retirement ceremonies also lay the groundwork for welcoming the new president because many of the guests at the retirement ceremonies will want to be apart of meeting the new president also, Haupert said.

“We expect to use some of those same locations in the fall where we will be introducing and having meet-and-greets for our new president,” he said. “We’re properly wanting to honor and acknowledge the Dowdens but at the same time be prepared for properly welcoming and bringing in a new leader.”

Dowden said that as the end of his career at HU nears, he has been thinking about the things that he will miss. The events have somewhat provided him an opportunity for nostalgic thoughts, but he expects most of the final reflections will be after graduation.

“It’s been such a busy time that there haven’t been a lot of opportunities to reflect,” Dowden said, “but I expect that to pick up after commencement ends and that we’ll do a lot of reflection then.”

As for his future, the 60-year-old said that “there are plans to not have plans for six months.” Dowden said that he has been advised to take a six-month sabbatical to renew and see where God wants to take them.

“Chris and I really want to serve and whether that is a paid position or a volunteer position – we don’t know,” Dowden said. “I’ve received a couple inquires about possibilities, but I’ve said ‘Please contact me in December and we’ll talk about it.’”

There are two future receptions planned for the Dowdens. A campus community retirement celebration will take place on May 9 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the upper level of the Habecker Dining Commons. The final event will be a Huntington community dessert reception on May 21. This event will invite members of the local community and surrounding area who support the university.

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