ISU first lady who helped develop Stephens Performing Arts Center has passed away
The following is a press release and photo from Idaho State University.
BOISE – Connie Bowen, a former first lady of Idaho State University whose efforts helped make the Stephens Performing Arts Center dream come true, died on Friday. She was living in Boise at the time of her death.
Connie’s husband, Richard, served as President of the State of Idaho from 1985 to 2005. During their two decades of leadership, Connie has focused her efforts on building relationships with the community.
“Idaho State is the university it is today because of the commitment, hard work and passion of the Bowens,” said President Kevin Satterlee. “Connie will be fondly remembered for the way she worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to support our students. His dedication has increased the prestige of our University.
During the Bowens’ time in Idaho State, Connie personally completed several projects, including the LE and the Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, a project close to her heart as a former dancer. The unique design of the Stephens Performing Arts Center is the result of Connie’s influence and dedication. When the architects presented their first design, Connie asked them to try again. She believed that the new building should be a source of inspiration for the University and the entire region. Her special touch was evident at every step of the way, from fundraising and interior design to the venue’s opening gala.
One of Connie’s important roles as First Lady was to cultivate relationships. She often shared her home with lawmakers, dignitaries and members of the community. Connie’s sense of fun could convince even the most sober of guests to participate in her board games. She was known for her skills in event planning, such as the 2003 inauguration of the traditional rendezvous-like Rendezvous complex, with oilcloth-wrapped invitations, re-enactments of mountain men and Shoshone-dancers. Bannock.
“Connie has spent countless hours planning events and other special projects for the university,” said Libby Howe, who worked closely with Connie as the former director of academic relations. “She was extremely talented and knew how to find the right touches to bring any event to life. His countless hours of effort and dedication have all been voluntary – completely out of devotion to Idaho State University. She never received a single dollar in compensation. Imagine, 20 years of dedicated volunteer service, and for that our entire Bengal family is immensely grateful. “
Connie believed in the importance of celebrating the history of the University. Fearing that people would forget the importance of Swanson Arch, the entrance to the university’s first building, she implemented the tradition of March Through The Arch, where freshmen walk the campus by Swanson Arch, then off campus again at graduation to signify their trip to the world. The tradition continues today, with hundreds of students walking through Swanson Arch each year.
The Bowens received the presidential medal at the 2019 Idaho State University reunion, an award they initially created to honor others. When they received the award, Connie recalled what it meant to be the first lady of the state of Idaho.
“It has been a privilege to work alongside my husband and to have the opportunity to serve the wonderful students, staff and people of this state,” said Connie. “It was their individual stories that touched our hearts and emphasized the importance of our office.”