President Bowling reaches milestone in serving Olivet

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, Dr. John C. Bowling crossed an invisible boundary and became the longest serving president in the 110-year history of Olivet Nazarene University (ONU).

September 19, 2017 Uncategorized

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, Dr. John C. Bowling crossed an invisible boundary and became the longest serving president in the 110-year history of Olivet Nazarene University (ONU). Entering his 27th year, Dr. Bowling surpassed his longtime mentor and friend, former president Dr. Harold W. Reed, who served as the 10th Olivet president from 1949 to 1975.


The Olivet Board of Trustees will formally recognize Dr. Bowling’s achievement as the longest tenured president at the fall meeting of the Trustees, Oct. 3 and 4, on campus.

For those who want to share their congratulations and memories with Dr. Bowling, use #thanksdrb hashtag on social media or email

Dr. Bowling was elected as the 12th president of Olivet during a meeting of the Board of Trustees, in the early hours of the morning on July 16, 1991. At the time of his election, Dr. Bowling was serving as the senior pastor of College Church of the Nazarene in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

An Olivet alumnus, Dr. Bowling is a Harvard University Fellow with two master’s and two earned doctorate degrees. He is also a best-selling author, a prominent national speaker and is recognized internationally as an outstanding leader in higher education.

During Dr. Bowling’s tenure, Olivet’s enrollment has more than doubled. Through the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, the University, too, has a stronger national presence, as well as a stronger international reach through graduate studies in Hong Kong. In 2007, Dr. Bowling led in establishing the University’s first doctoral degree program.

He has overseen several major developments to the campus, including acquisition of the 30-acre Fortin Villa property for ROTC and intramurals, as well as construction of the Admissions Center; Weber Center; the 3,000-seat Centennial Chapel (dedicated in 2010); the 180,000-square-foot Perry Student Life and Recreation Center (opened in 2012); and the engineering expansion of Reed Hall of Science (opened in 2014).

Dr. Bowling is largely credited for bringing the Chicago Bears Training Camp to the Olivet campus and the Bourbonnais community in 2002. The University has been named one of the top 25 “Best Christian Workplaces” in the United States by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute for several consecutive years — with consistently high scores for the “degree of trust between senior leadership and employees.”

Accolades and well wishes for Dr. Bowling continue to come from those who have worked with him through the years.

“Dr. Bowling is one of the finest university presidents in all of higher education. We are so blessed that God led him to Olivet. He serves with great distinction, and his work is not done. I believe some of Dr. Bowling’s most significant days as president are yet to come. It is my privilege to congratulate Dr. Bowling for his exceptional leadership on behalf of the entire ONU Board of Trustees.” — Dr. David Roland, chair, ONU Board of Trustees

“The University has attained national and international status under Dr. Bowling’s outstanding leadership. We have doubled our enrollment, expanded the main campus, partnered with the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears, added campuses across the Midwest and extended our reach into other countries. The progress we have made as a university is amazing. It has been a true joy to serve alongside John these 26-plus years!” — Dr. Douglas Perry ’68/’79/’95 D.Litt., ONU Vice President for Finance

“The entire Olivet family — with over 40,000 alumni around the world — is delighted to congratulate Dr. Bowling on this remarkable achievement. We are also so grateful for his wife, Jill, and her incredible contribution to Olivet. We dearly love the Bowlings and are deeply grateful for them!” — Dan Taylor ’79, president of the ONU Alumni Association

“On behalf of the entire student body, we love our president! He and First Lady Jill Bowling are right there with us through our four years at Olivet. We are grateful for their investment in our lives.” — Tommy Lambrecht, junior, 2017–2018 ONU student body president

Published: 9/19/2017

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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