Montana State University

College of Business News

Scholarship Endowment Honors One of Bozeman's Best

 

The Bowen & Simon Families
When Michael Bowen and his sister Jennifer (Bowen) Simon graduated from Montana State University College of Business in 2000, they had no idea that only a few years later they would be making a contribution to the College of Business that will greatly impact future students' educational experiences.

In November of 2003, Bowen and Simon's father, Mike, was tragically killed in an automobile accident. In an effort to memorialize their father, they, along with their mother, Caroline Bowen, have started an endowment offering scholarships to College of Business students.

As the Pepsi Cola Company's National Account Sales Manager for the Northwest, Mike was a successful businessman and an integral member of the corporate community. "It was because of him that both [my brother and I] chose a major in business I got my work ethic from my father," said Simon. Michael added, "He was very successful in business and in life. In fact, he was successful at anything he tried, be it building a shed in the backyard, raising a family, or anything in between."

Bob Arrotta, the general manager of Harrington's Pepsi Cola of Bozeman said, "Mike Bowen was one of the most dynamic people I ever met. I don't think it would've mattered what industry he would have chosen to work in. Mike was one of the most sincere and most knowledgeable people I have ever been around. It is kind-of hard to explain the guy he knew where to get things and how to get things done no matter what the situation was. He was sincerely a dear friend to me and to Harrington's Pepsi Cola."

Mike graduated with a marketing degree from Akron University in Ohio. He later received an honorary degree from Tulsa University in Oklahoma for his involvement there. Continuing in that manner, he became very involved with Montana State University. Michael said, "We all felt that the College of Business was the best choice in determining where to establish the endowment. By providing students with a scholarship that carries his name, Mike Bowen, a little bit of him lives on as each new student is helped to achieve a degree from the College of Business and is later successful in their careers and life."

When the Bowens first moved to Montana, Mike continued working for Pepsi Co. as the Franchise Manager, serving both Montana and Wyoming. Mike worked for Pepsi Co. 25 years over the course of his career. Michael said, "He worked harder than anyone I know and loved Pepsi to the point that while getting offers from other companies with better pay, he stayed with the company that had already provided him with so much People around town knew him both for the man he was and for the company he represented. If he was at a restaurant that served Pepsi products and they had a problem with their soda, he would get his hands dirty and fix whatever problem they had."

The criteria for a student to receive the Mike Bowen Memorial Scholarship is that the applicant be active in extracurricular activities and also works while s/he attends MSU. Simon said, "My brother and I were both orientation leaders, we were both student advisors My hope is that [the scholarship] will reward students for their hard work. Being involved in activities and working takes a lot of time." Mike's wife, Caroline, concurred, "We know how hard it is to work and go to school to keep up with studies and so hopefully this will be a way to make it a little easier for someone to get through school."

The Bowen family believed that creating the scholarship fund was an opportunity to stress Mike's vision of the importance of education, while also giving back to the College. "To me, the great professors really make the College of Business. Anyone can learn from a textbook, but it is the professors who really make it worth while. We just hope the students are getting as much from the school that we did," Simon said. Michael added, "We thought the endowment would be a great way to continue giving back to Montana State and the College of Business while creating a way for our dad's name to live forever in something he believed so strongly in, education." He continued, "It is a way for my dad to continue helping others achieve greater success through education."

Mike is remembered by his family for his generous spirit and great sense of humor, as well as his commitment to the Bozeman community and MSU. Caroline, said, "He was very giving and wanted to help other people He always wanted to be involved in the community to be a part of the lives of the people he lived around. He wanted to help people to live their lives better, to enjoy their lives."

"He was everything you could wish for in a dad and a friend, everything I strive for in life and business, and everything I hope to be when I start a family of my own," said Michael.

If any individual would like to add funds to the Mike Bowen Memorial, please contact Jackie Sather, MSU College of Business Director of Development ~ 406-994-6766 or jsather@montana.edu

By Keli Tondre, MSU College of Business