When Facebook named Erskine Bowles to its board, Mr. Zuckerberg said about this choice: “Erskine has held important roles in government, academia and business which have given him insight into how to build organizations and navigate complex issues.” Indeed, Erskine Bowles’s distinguished career has left its mark in all three areas.
Erskine Bowles grew up in North Carolina and received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Columbia University. With an excellent academic background, he joined the corporate sector, working for Morgan Stanley. He later returned to his home in North Carolina and formed other successful investment firms. Mr. Bowles used his knowledge and experience to help improve the lives of others in North Carolina by devoting his time and expertise to promote economic development to rural North Carolina. He lends his expertise and generosity to causes beyond economic prosperity, working, for example, with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and helping to create an ALS
(Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mr. Bowles’s commitment to serve the greater good is evident in his record of public service, both in the state and national arenas. Erskine Bowles served as the President of the University of North Carolina System from 2005 to 2010. Of his service, the governor of North Carolina Bev Perdue said: “Erskine Bowles's service to North Carolina and to our university system is a tremendous gift to our citizens as well as to our campuses. His talents, boldness, skill set, and determination have helped redefine how higher education works in this state. His capacity to collaborate has strengthened all levels of education, Pre-K through 20, so that we truly have a seamless system that will help our students compete in this global economy.” Indeed, Mr. Bowles’s outstanding service to the University of North Carolina System earned him the 2011 “University Award,” the highest honor given by the Board of Governors of the 17-campus University of North Carolina. The award recognizes “illustrious service to higher education in North Carolina.”
In 1993, President Clinton appointed Mr. Bowles director of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Reflecting on Mr. Bowles’s tenure as the head of the SBA, President Clinton said that under Mr. Bowles’s leadership, the SBA transformed “from a political backwater to an engine of economic growth.” Mr. Bowles’s successful career in the public sector continued with his appointment as a deputy Chief of Staff and later as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff in 1997-1998 where he was an integral part of the negotiations that led to the first balanced budget in recent history. Mr. Bowles was credited for working in a collaboratively and in a non-partisan fashion to get things done.
Without a doubt, Erskine Bowles has led a notable career serving the private and the public sectors with distinction. To the general public, however, he is mostly recognized for his most current public service, that of co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRR), commonly known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission. This presidential commission, co-chaired by Alan Simpson (a Republican senator from Wyoming), was created to bring the looming increase in the budget deficit into focus and propose solutions aimed at reducing the national debt. The commission was charged with highlighting “…policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.” Having to work with a bitterly divided congress, Erskine Bowles was the perfect choice for this daunting task. Speaking to reporters, he once said, “I believe in working in a bipartisan manner. I believe in cooperating for the common good. And I believe in an administration that has clearly defined goals, objectives and timelines such that it and its people can be held accountable.” Indeed, Erskine Bowles serves the country by these words. He is well respected by members of both parties, and he is known for his non-ideological and task-oriented approach to serve the greater good. Although the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s ambitious, bipartisan plan to reduce the national debt did not receive the required number of votes to be moved for a vote in Congress, it has gained momentum in the last couple of months as discussions about the fiscal cliff and congressional inability to develop a plan to reduce the debt have become even more evident.
At times when our country is politically polarized, Erskine Bowles’s commitment to serving the country with a great deal of wisdom, common sense, collaboration, and care exemplifies the best of public service for the common good. Stevenson University is honored to welcome Mr. Erskine Bowles to the Baltimore Speakers Series.
Dr. Ora Freedman received her Ph.D. in Economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1991. Prior to joining the faculty of the Brown School of Business and Leadership at Stevenson University, Dr. Freedman taught economics for the executive MBA programs and for traditional undergraduates at SUNY Binghamton. Her teaching experience also includes The Technion Institute in Israel and Towson University. Dr. Freedman’s research is in the area of environmental economics. More specifically, she studies climate change and the European countries’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol.