Brother Francis Bowers Celebrates 50-Plus Years of Service

Br. Francis’ longtime and wide-ranging service helped shape the future of Manhattan College

Brother Francis Bowers, FSC, Ph.D., associate professor emeritus of English, has brought a passion for excellence to his classroom teaching and his many administrative duties at Manhattan College for more than half a century. During his special recognition at the 2013 Faculty Recognition Convocation, Mary Ann O’Donnell, Ph.D., professor emeritus of English and former dean of the School of Arts, declared it “virtually impossible to sum up his extraordinary and exemplary service.”

He served in many different roles at Manhattan College: adviser, chairman, professor, dean and provost. But formal titles aside, he’s a New York City Jasper at heart.

Born in Manhattan in 1920, Br. Francis attended the Brothers’ Cathedral Boys High School, where he played baseball and basketball. He took a slightly untraditional route to the novitiate and pursued a high-stakes job on Wall Street for five years to support his family during his father’s illness.

In 1942, when many men his age were strapping on their combat boots, Br. Francis was strapping up his books en route to The Catholic University of America, as his poor eyesight medically disqualified him for military service. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1946, he went on to earn a Master of Arts from Fordham University in 1952 and his doctorate from The Catholic University in 1959.

Br. Francis first arrived at Manhattan College in 1954, when he was hired as a summer session instructor of English for three consecutive years. His uncompromising pursuit of academic excellence and ever-obliging demeanor was noticed; he quickly took on heavier responsibilities.

From full-time faculty member and chair of the graduate and undergraduate English departments, to dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, he eventually served as provost and academic vice president for five years and oversaw the introduction of coeducation. Afterward, he elected to return to the classroom.

For 16 years, he served as academic adviser for intercollegiate athletes, and for his involvement with Jasper student-athletes, he was inducted into the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Today, Br. Francis is associate professor emeritus of English and the special academic adviser to the School of Arts. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports statistics, and gets to the College every day, serving the community in countless ways behind the scenes.

“He knows who is in pain, who needs a smile,” O’Donnell said. “In his daily walk across campus, he has stopped for short visits, brief chats with so many. He has done the good things that few may notice, but all will miss.”

By MC Staff