Linda Bowman (MPA ’92, PhD ’95), clinical professor in the Leadership for Educational Equity program and interim vice provost for student access and achievement at CU Denver, has spent a career leading community colleges in Colorado – 13 years as president and more than 25 years in leadership in the Colorado Community College System. This is where she developed her passion for educational access, equity and social justice in higher education. She knows higher education leaders can make the difference if they share that passion and are empowered with tools for positive change.
Bowman was hired by CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) to lead the development of the new Doctor of Education, Leadership for Educational Equity concentration in higher education. She will be working with others this year to get ready for the first classes. The new offering empowers leaders in higher education to improve educational access, equity and success in diverse urban and rural communities. The three-year cohort-based program provides a hybrid online and on-campus format that’s accessible to working professionals.
“The time is right for this program, and CU Denver is the right place for it,” Bowman said. “We have the commitment of faculty and the administration to shape the future of leadership in higher education with an equity mindedness that will serve the students of the future.”
An alumna with passion
Bowman, who joined the CU Denver faculty in January, holds bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish and a master’s degree in English. She began her career teaching in K-12 classrooms but soon moved to teaching and administration at the college level.
Then, she developed an interest in community colleges that led her to CU Denver, where she earned a master’s degree and doctorate in public administration.
“I had a terrific experience as a student here,” she said. “It was a turning point for me in terms of being able to rethink systems and strategies for student success.”
Bowman has served as president of three colleges and compiled 26 years of leadership in the Colorado Community College System. She was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Hong Kong and has contributed to key policy initiatives, including credit transfer, public higher education advocacy and funding, and concurrent credit offerings for high school students.
“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to come into this institution, which I love anyway, and be part of this program, which I believe will really change opportunities for thousands of people—that’s a thrill,” she said.
A leader for leaders
The first student cohort in the Doctor of Education, Leadership for Educational Equity in Higher Education program will begin coursework in summer 2019.
Through the hybrid course format, students will meet in person for one week in the summer and one week in the winter, and will engage in collaborative online courses in between. SEHD administrators are working with CU Online and the new Office of Digital Education to construct an online format for the program that maximizes meaningful learning experiences and faculty interactions along with convenience.
“This structure helps accommodate people’s working lives and allows them to practice and test things they are learning,” Bowman said. “People who are already working professionals in the field bring so much into the conversation.”
The curriculum will focus on the leadership skills needed to improve access, equity and success for college and university students. Students will study, for example, law and ethics, organizational cultures, finance and strategic resource allocation, power and privilege, and predictive analytics.
The program will offer a unique support service through which students can receive executive coaching for up to a year after graduation.
“As leaders are moving up in responsibility, the role of coaching is critical to their success,” Bowman said. “I have provided this service, and I know that having someone who understands your work and can provide you safe and confidential feedback can help you navigate the challenges of each new day in your career.”
An advocate for access
Bowman points to large-scale demographic changes in the United States as a contributor to the need for this program, as well as the exodus of the baby boomer generation from the workforce.
“We know that across higher education, students from diverse populations have not been as successful as they should be,” she said. “Higher education provides the best way we know for dealing with many significant societal challenges and inequities. We know that we must be intentional about student success. Folks who have educational opportunities are able to rise. For that to happen, we must provide both quality and support.”
From her work as a college faculty member, administrator and president, and in her current position as board chair for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a partner with CU Denver, Bowman sees what those efforts can bring.
While other similar education degree programs exist around country, Bowman said they don’t offer the specialized format of SEHD’s new degree.
“This degree enables and supports current leaders in higher education to continue their work while completing their degree,” she said. “The graduates of this program will be successful leaders for higher education in the future.”