Governor Otis R. Bowen was associated with Indiana University for forty-one years since enrolling as a freshman in 1935. Upon completing his education at I.U., Dr. Bowen embarked on a distinguished career as a practicing physician in Bremen, Indiana, as a state legislator, and as governor of Indiana. Indiana University paid homage to Dr. Bowen in 1971 when the School of Medicine named him "Alumnus of the Year." In 1976, Indiana University again honored Dr. Bowen, as a partner in fulfilling the University's duties under the state constitution; education, research, and public service.
Born February 26, 1918, near Rochester, Indiana, and holder of the A.B. degree in anatomy and physiology (1939) and the M.D. degree (1942) from Indiana University, Dr. Bowen served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps after graduation, rising to the rank of captain during wartime service in the Pacific. Following World War II, he entered the general practice of medicine in Bremen, which he still calls home. It was in Bremen that he held his first public office - that of Marshall County coroner, 1952-1956.
In 1957, Dr. Bowen broadened his base of public service, beginning the first of what was to be fourteen years as a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives. Four times during this fourteen-year period, he was elected the Speaker of the House. During his legislative career, Dr. Bowen also was House Minority Leader, a member of the Legislative Advisory Commission, and chairman of the Legislative Council. He reached still another pinnacle of public service - that of Governor - in 1972. Dr. Bowen has served on: Midwest Governors' Great Lakes Caucus, Steering Committee of the Education Commission of the United States, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Crime Reduction and Public Safety of the National Governors' Conference, honorary member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Public Service at Anderson College, Executive Committee of the Council of State Governments, Advisory Board of the Indianapolis Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the President's Commission on Federal Paperwork.
Dr. Bowen was a trustee of Ancilla College; a member of the advisory committee to Vincennes University; and held membership in the county, district, state, and American Medical Associations; the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club; Alpha Omega Alpha; Phi Beta Pi; Delta Chi; American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; and St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
In 1971, the Indiana Public Health Association conferred upon him its merit award, which is the highest honor the IPHA bestows upon an individual for outstanding achievements in public health. Two years later, Dr. Bowen was selected to be the first recipient of the American Medical Association's Dr. Benjamin Rush Award. The award is made to physicians who have made contributions to the community in the area of citizenship and public service. Additional recognition included the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Butler University, Valparaiso University, Anderson College, and Vincennes University.