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Sept. 12, 2019

Northwest to celebrate B.D., Sue Owens with Sept. 27 program

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Northwest Missouri State University will welcome one of its former presidents and first ladies back to the campus to reminisce about some of the institution’s history as part of its Family Weekend activities.

The public is invited to join President Emeritus Dr. B.D. Owens for a conversation with Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, on the third floor of the B.D. Owens Library. Jasinski will talk with Owens about his varied experiences at Northwest, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own questions for Owens.

From 3 to 4 p.m. in the library, the public is invited to view Northwest’s collection of Sue Owens’ poetry books, which also showcase her watercolor and acrylic paintings.

B.D. and Sue Owens were president and first lady at Northwest from 1977 until 1984. B.D. Owens also is the only Northwest president to be an alumnus of the University, having earned his bachelor’s degree in 1959; Sue Owens is a 1957 Northwest graduate.

B.D. Owens ushered Northwest through several challenges during his presidency that included declining enrollment, a probation imposed by its accrediting body and a poor fiscal outlook.

In 1979, in the aftermath of a fire that severely damaged the Administration Building and altered the campus, Owens guided the University forward and secured funding for capital projects to replace facilities lost in the fire while enhancing the campus for a new generation of students. The B.D. Owens Library opened in 1983 and the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts opened the next year.

Additionally, through Owens’ vision and to combat dramatic increases in the cost of natural gas and heating oil, Northwest launched its innovative biomass energy system in 1982. Today, the program has saved the University nearly $16 million in energy costs with wood and paper fuels accounting for more than half of the campus’ total energy consumption.

“I felt by 1984 I had done what I came to do: restore the school that is dear to me, set in motion some changes that addressed problems, see enrollment increase, remove us from probation, and encourage some very capable people to new levels of performance. I wanted to leave while I was on top,” Owens said for Janice Bandon-Falcone’s 2005 book, “Transitions: A Hundred Years of Northwest.”


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215