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Posted: June 9, 2009 4:01 p.m.

Oxford Dean creates scholarship fund

Stephen Bowen, dean of Oxford College of Emory University, and his wife, Nancy, have pledged $100,000 to create a new endowed scholarship fund at Oxford. The Bowen Scholarship will provide need-based aid to sophomore students.
 
“We at Oxford have been working to build a tradition of philanthropic support and I recognized that it is important to lead by example,” says Bowen. “Nancy and I have developed a particular appreciation for the students who begin their Emory careers in Oxford College. An endowment that will provide them with financial assistance through scholarships seemed most appropriate.”
 
A biologist who began his teaching career in Michigan in 1978, Bowen said Oxford’s focus on learning resonates with his values as a professor.
 
“Oxford's mission is very close to my heart as an educator. The faculty have a commitment that is humbling and an esprit de corps that is engaging. Emory’s trustees, president and provost have high expectations of Oxford and are committed to supporting its deepening integration with the university as a whole,” Bowen says. “Perhaps most compelling is the fact that Emory juniors and seniors who spent their first two years at Oxford eagerly testify to the exceptional education they got there, one that is liberal arts-intensive. The ideal to which many liberal arts colleges aspire is currently realized at Oxford."
 
Oxford is unique, Bowen adds, because the faculty do not have to choose between their commitment to students and applying for competitive research support. While faculty members at Oxford are actively involved in scholarship, they are not required to win federal grants as part of their job. “Oxford strikes a different balance between scholarship and teaching than do other institutions.”
 
By focusing on the educational opportunities particular to the freshmen and sophomore years, Oxford compels students to embrace the broad goals of the liberal arts rather than the more narrow focus of a declared major. For example, faculty and students can work directly on critical thinking, the moral implications of actions and applying a multidisciplinary approach to communicating effectively, Bowen explains.
 
The largest class size is 33 students and the majority of classes enroll fewer than 20, so every student receives personal attention in every class. Alumni consistently report that the personal relationships they developed with challenging yet supportive faculty were a critical ingredient in their Oxford educations.  This attention does come with a price tag of about $41,500 a year, Bowen points out, but he added that 74 percent of Oxford students receive financial aid. The Bowens’ scholarship fund will help make an Oxford education available to all qualified students, regardless of their financial backgrounds.
 
“We feel strongly about the importance of a liberal arts education generally and the importance of an Oxford liberal arts education specifically,” says Bowen, who joined Oxford as dean in August 2005.
 
As part of Campaign Emory’s overall University goal of $1.6 billion, Oxford College has committed to raise $40 million. Gifts from alumni, friends, faculty and staff have generated $19 million as of April 1 for scholarships, a new science and mathematics building, a new library and academic commons and other priorities
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