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Bowen, Howard R.




Education, Welfare Economics


Howard Rothmann Bowen began his career teaching economics at the University of Iowa from 1935 to 1942. During World War II, Bowen worked as a chief economist for the Joint Congressional Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation. After the war, he worked on Wall Street for two years at the Irving Trust Company before returning to education by becoming the Dean of the College of Commerce at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Bowen came to the College with the intention of establishing it as “one of the leading centers for economics in the United States.” To do this, he recruited a number of brilliant young economists such as Franco Modigliani, winner of the 1985 Nobel Prize of Economics, and Leonid Hurwicz, who won the prize in 2007. Bowen’s plan was successful initially, but created tensions between his appointments and the “old guard” of faculty that had been in the Department of Economics prior to Bowen’s arrival.

In 1950, the tension reached a breaking point when Professor Ralph H. Blodgett resigned from the Department. Bowen had relieved Blodgett, a member of the faculty since 1937, of many of his teaching duties without consultation. Everett E. Hagen, the head of the Department who Bowen had appointed, justified the administration’s lack of effort to convince Blodgett to stay at Illinois by saying he was not using “new tools of analysis” in his teaching.

The older faculty saw this as an attack by the administration on the academic freedom of professors. The rift in the Department became incredibly public when this group, led by Donald L. Kemmerer, began airing their grievances in the News-Gazette regularly. Ultimately, Bowen was removed as dean in late 1950. Many of his young appointees left the University soon after, and Bowen himself left Illinois in 1952.

Bowen then built a long, successful career at other institutions throughout the country. He taught economics at Williams College after leaving Illinois and served as president of three other institutions: Grinnell College, the University of Iowa, and the Claremont Graduate School. In 1975, Illinois honored his career achievements by giving him an honorary doctorate degree. Howard Bowen would retire in 1984, and was deceased on December 22, 1989.


University of Iowa, 1935


  • Bowen, Howard R. Investment in Learning: The Individual and Social Value of American Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1977. Print.
  • Bowen, Howard R. Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. New York: Harper, 1953. Print.
  • Bowen, Howard R, and Gordon K. Douglass. Efficiency in Liberal Education: A Study of Comparative Instructional Costs for Different Ways of Organizing Teaching-Learning in a Liberal Arts College. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971. Print.
  • Bowen, Howard R, and Jack H. Schuster. American Professors: A National Resource Imperiled. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Print.
  • Bowen, Howard R. The Costs of Higher Education: How Much Do Colleges and Universities Spend Per Student and How Much Should They Spend? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1980. Print.


Bowen Case Issuances from the University of Illinois Library Archives

Howard Bowen Papers at the University of Iowa Library


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