Margaret Bowman, or Maggie to her friends, is a woman of exceptional will and energy. During the official dedication of the Bowman Building to Margaret Bowman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Planning), Dr Doug Huxley, described her as a woman who was "always forthright, mostly fearless, sometimes fearsome, but fortunately, mostly friendly".
Margaret Bowman served the Hunter Institute of Higher Education as a Member of Council from April 1981 to October 1989. She was President of Council from April 1983 until April 1988 and was a Member of the University of Newcastle Council from June 1982 to February 1988.
But Margaret's association with the University goes back further than this. She was a student at Newcastle Teachers College and Newcastle University before either of them were on this campus. The eldest of six children, Margaret was born and bred in Newcastle and as such has a great affinity with the community.
Dr Huxley explained that Margaret, apart from being a busy and energetic Member of Council, was also a busy and energetic member of the community. "She knew the kinds of things the community wanted and deserved from its higher education institution," he said.
Margaret believes it to be essential that links exist between the University's governing bodies and the community it serves. "After all, it is ultimately their children, or they themselves who are going to attend the institutions," she said, adding that the views of the community are extremely important.
Margaret says that during her eight years with Council, she sought the support of the community in many issues, and in particular at the time when amalgamation proposals were being put forward. She stated that the amalgamation debate encouraged the people of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley to "think more about the institution and to see it as something excellent that was home grown".
The University's goal now, she says, must be to work hard and do what is best for the region and for the people who live here.
Margaret Bowman's down-to-earth manner was exemplified in the speech she made during the ceremony. "There are times when I feel an awful fraud fraud for being honoured by an academic institution," she said, adding that the University had shown her overwhelming esteem and appreciation.
"If my distinctly unacademic services have been of value than I am satisfied," she said, thanking the University for its "concrete" recognition of her work.
The Bowman Building will remain a symbol of Margaret's dedication to this University and to the community it serves. In Dr Huxley's words, "People may well ask the question in the future, Who the hell was Margaret Bowman, but at least they will ask!"
The Deputy Chancellor, Dr Peter Hendry, expressed the view of all who knew Margaret Bowman saying that this was an honour he "richly deserves".
(Reprinted from The University of Newcastle Bulletin, August 3rd, 1992)
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