(OXFORD, Miss.) – Audra and Phillip Bowman of Ridgeland first met at a New Year’s Eve event that Phillip and his friends organized to raise funds for a local charity. After marrying they have continued to make “giving back” a priority in their lives, providing support to educational, religious and community groups, including the University of Mississippi.
The alumni have established the Bowman Ole Miss First Scholarship to assist a Jackson Academy student who plans to pursue a degree from UM’s School of Business Administration as well as the Bowman Business School Fellows Fund to help build faculty support. They have joined the Vaught Society, which provides resources for athletics facilities, coaches and student-athlete scholarships and have previously committed a planned gift to create a scholarship endowment for student-athletes.
“Outside of our church, Bellwether, the two institutions Audra and I love are Jackson Academy and the University of Mississippi,” said Phillip Bowman, a JA Board of Trustees member. “When I learned about the Ole Miss First scholarship program from Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, it seemed like the ideal vehicle to help a JA student experience Ole Miss. Audra and I both had great educational experiences at Ole Miss, and the university is constantly adding new, incredible programs.”
Phillip Bowman, owner of Specialty Metals, Inc., earned an undergraduate degree in business administration with a major in marketing, while Audra Bowman earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in communicative disorders. The mentoring aspects of the Ole Miss First program appealed to them.
“The entire Ole Miss First Scholarship program is really meaningful, and it would be great to see other scholarships modeled that way,” said Phillip Bowman. “During my life I have been blessed to have strong mentors, beginning with my late father, who was an ethical businessman and entrepreneur, and through sports, college, business and community activities. An encouraging mentor can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life.”
Dean of Business Ken Cyree said, “We greatly appreciate the support from such dedicated alumni as Audra and Phillip Bowman. Their generosity will allow us to attract outstanding students and have those students taught by accomplished professors. Through their philanthropy, we will help prepare students to compete in the business world.”
The other part of the Bowmans’ gift to the business school supports faculty.
“The business school leadership knows where private gifts can be best used, and the current priority is attracting faculty support to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members,” Bowman said. “That is certainly an area that’s extremely important. In addition, Ole Miss sporting events are something my family and I have enjoyed as long as I can remember. I think the Vaught Society is a great place to provide assistance to Ole Miss.”
When thinking of how much their alma mater means to them, Bowman said he and Audra felt that a gift to the Vaught Society would be put to work right away, making an impact on athletics needs.
“Audra and Phillip Bowman continue to be such loyal supporters of Ole Miss Athletics,” said Danny White, senior associate athletics director and executive director of the UMAA Foundation. “This family understands that our vision to elevate our athletics programs to nationally competitive levels can be realized with the strong support of our alumni and friends. We deeply appreciate their support of the Vaught Society as well as their planned gift for student-athlete scholarships.”
The family’s support of education is a long-held value.
“Education was really important to my parents …,” said Phillip Bowman, who with his sister, Amy Bowman of San Francisco, started a scholarship fund at JA in memory of their parents, the late Faye and Harmon Bowman. “Academics, of course, should be very strong, but there are so many aspects of a school that enhance a person’s life. I think JA and Ole Miss both provide a well-rounded package of valuable experiences.”
Bowman became the first JA alumnus to chair the school’s board of trustees, and he provided leadership on a capital campaign for the school’s performing arts center. Audra Bowman is an active volunteer for numerous JA programs, and the couple’s children – Blaine, 11; Wesley, 9; and Amelia Dare, 6 – all attend JA.
“Phillip and I feel blessed that we are able to provide this support to Ole Miss,” said Audra Bowman. “We hope these resources will help students take full advantage of all the opportunities that are available at Ole Miss to build meaningful careers and lives.”
For more information on the Ole Miss First program or providing faculty support through the Barnard Initiative, visit www.umfoundation.com and click on “current initiatives” or call the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542. To learn more about supporting Ole Miss Athletics through the Vaught Society, visit www.olemisssports.com/sports/umaaf/ or call the UMAA Foundation at 662-915-7159.