Fr. Abram J. Ryan Division 1

Hibernians Honor President McGowan as Irish Person of the Year

Joseph J. McGowan is president of Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. He joined Befiarminc in 1990 after serving for 22 years at Fordam University in New York as a vice president and dean. Prior to that McGowan was an admissions and financial officer at the University of Notre Dame.

Mcgowan led the transformation of Bellarmine College to Bellarmine University, which has been named as the region’s best comprehensive university by U.S. News and World Report for 17 consecutive years. Princeton Review ranks Bellarmine University as one of the nation’s top colleges.

During McGowan’s 20-year tenure, Bellarmine University has made remarkable strides in academic life, student life, campus environment and financial well being.

Some of his achievements include the addition of 26 new undergraduate academic degree and certification programs and six graduate degree programs, including two doctorates.

A Schools of Education, Communication, Continuing and Professional Studies, a Center for Regional Environmental Studies and an Institute for Media, Culture and Ethics were established, and the Lansing School of Nursing expanded to include Health Sciences.

McGowan received a doctorate in higher education from Columbia University, and a BA and MA from the University of Notre Dame. He also is a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. In higher education, McGowan is the immediate past chairman of the  National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and has served  on the boards of of the American Council on Higher Education, the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, and Kentuckiana Metroversity.

While a resident of New York, McGowan belonged to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He traces his Irish ancestry five generations back to County Donegal.

When Dr. Joseph J. McGowan was inaugurated as the third president of what was then Bellarmine College in 1990, he spoke of creating a primarily residential college, nurturing faculty as the institution’s greatest asset, and raising an endowment to support future growth. Twenty years in, McGowan’s original vision has been largely realized, and Bellarmine University continues to expand.

McGowan and his wife have two sons and five grandchildren.

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