Dr. Pat Bower
Dr. Pat Bower, recipient of the 2007 Excellence in Teaching Award, comes from a family of teachers. She fondly remembers, at the age of four, lining her stuffed animals up in front of a chalkboard while her grandfather supplied the answers to her questions. She credits two beloved aunts and her older sister with providing strong teaching role models. Dr. Bower truly feels called to teach and stated that if she had her whole life to live over, she would choose to become a teacher.
Dr. Bower earned her BS and MEd degrees at the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and she received a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Vanderbilt University. She believes that her undergraduate program prepared her well for the teaching profession, and she acknowledges the influence of a favorite professor who taught creativity – an attribute for which she herself is often recognized.
Dr. Bower came to Baptist College at Charleston in 1987 after Dr. Ken Bonnette, then Provost, met her at a Charleston Higher Education Consortium gathering. Dr. Bonnette was impressed with her work as Associate Director of the consortium, as well as her 13 years’ experience as an administrator in the Charleston County Schools system, and he invited her to apply for an open professorship in the college’s Department of Education. Teaching in higher education was not on her career agenda at the time, but Dr. Bower says that she was excited about the idea of training teachers. She looks back on her decision to come to Baptist College, now Charleston Southern, as a “calling;” the time was absolutely right. Fresh from the public schools, she had much to contribute to the Education program, and she, in turn, was offered numerous opportunities for growth, eventually becoming Dean of the School of Education.
When asked about her teaching style, Dr. Bower responded that her classes tend to be “lively.” She believes in small group instruction, including role plays and case studies, where students can reflect together on actions individually and collectively. She is known for her “moments of mercy” (five minutes for graduate students) during tests, where students are allowed to look at their notes or texts for one minute – only valuable if they have good notes or have read the texts to begin with. She reminds her students that it’s not always about memorizing answers; it’s about knowing where to find the answers.
Dr. Bower believes that she received the Excellence in Teaching award because she “represents integrity in teaching.” Notes and emails from former students consistently talk about her being a “fun and excellent teacher.” Building those respectful relationships with students, she says, is critical to teaching excellence. She adds that, “I have done my best to always contribute positively to the University.” In 2001, Dr. Bower wrote and received funding for a $1.7 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant, which enabled Charleston Southern University’s educational technology to make a quantum leap forward.
Outside the classroom, Dr. Bower enjoys her monthly book club, gardening, cooking for small groups of friends and volunteering for various community projects including Charleston Kids with Cameras. She loves living downtown and walking from her house to a number of venues to enjoy concerts, theatre, galleries and various cultural events. She also loves to travel. In 1997, she became a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast and a volunteer at Tuowofoho-Holly Primary School in Ghana, West Africa, where she lived for a year. Again, she experienced that sense that she had been “called” to share her special gifts, not in the role of rescuer – her first inclination – but in helping the African people develop the ability to help themselves. In the summer of 2002, she and a fellow CSU faculty member, Dr. Don Clerico, travelled with 10 CSU students to Ghana for a Teaching and Learning in Ghana study-teaching tour. In 2003, they received a Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad grant to take 11 classroom teachers to Ghana to teach at the Tuowofoho-Holly School. She also traveled to Romania last spring and helped to set up a Kids with Cameras, program, a nonprofit effort that nurtures the “transformative power of art” by providing digital cameras to underprivileged children in communities around the world. Trained mentors work with children in assisting them to photograph their lives.
In response to the question, “What would your students find surprising about you?” she answered that, “I like to put on my jeans and kick back from time to time,” while she also pointed to pictures on her office wall – one of her being hugged by the actor, Morgan Freeman, at his restaurant in Mississippi and another of her with a live crocodile in Ghana! Lively indeed – in and out of the classroom.