Sister Vivian receives highest honor from Brescia University

Sister Vivian is joined by her fellow honorees as Distinguished Alumni, Rick Higdon, left, and Art Ealum.

Ursuline Sister Vivian Bowles received the Brescia University Distinguished Alumni Award on Sept. 20, praising the school the she said had been in her heart since her first visit in 1952.

“Brescia has given me so much and prepared me so well to have an open mind, to learn new things and ways of doing things, to think critically and to honor differences – thus I always want to live out the principles I learned here and to be a loyal and giving alumna,” she said during her acceptance speech at Owensboro’s RiverPark Center. “I enjoyed being a Brescia student, professor, counselor, division chair and president, but they were all for a limited time. However, I will always be an alumna. My heart beats for Brescia.”

The three new members of the Distinguished Alumni are joined by many of the previous winners. The award was begun by Sister Vivian when she was president of Brescia.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest award the university bestows. Also honored with Sister Vivian were Art Ealum, a 2006 graduate who is chief of the Owensboro Police Department, and Rick Higdon, class of 1986, who is an executive director at Ernst and Young and a member of the Brescia Board of Trustees.

Sister Vivian is a 1969 graduate of Brescia. She first began ministering at Brescia in 1973, teaching education classes and supervising secondary student teachers. After a couple of years, she helped develop the psychology department and served as a professor of psychology and director of the Counseling Center until 1995, with a year off in 1981-82 to complete her doctoral studies in both counseling psychology and education.

Sister Vivian, second from left, is joined by previous honoree Sister Ruth Gehres, left, whom she succeeded as president of Brescia, current Brescia President Father Larry Hostetter and Sally Halbig, the president’s assistant.

In 1980 she was named division chair of social and behavioral sciences, a position she held until 1992, when she was elected to the Mount Saint Joseph leadership Council, serving until 1996. In 1995 she was named the fourth president of Brescia, where she served until 2007. It was during Sister Vivian’s tenure that Brescia College received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities to become Brescia University on June 1, 1998.

Since 2012, she has served as director of faith formation at St. Alphonsus Parish in St. Joseph, Ky.

Sister Vivian and Father Larry Hostetter, who succeeded her as president of Brescia, joke around with Barney Bearcat before the festivities began.

“Anytime I spoke for Brescia, I accentuated our alumni and their many contributions to their families and to society,” Sister Vivian said in her speech. “We are so proud of all of our alumni who portray the Brescia Difference. They all are quite distinguished. … They generously give their time and talent. They represent Brescia well, as do our Distinguished Alumni here tonight.”

“I am who I am by the grace of God, the modeling of my loving and generous parents, the nurturing and example of the Ursuline Sisters, an exceptional education at Brescia and the encouragement of so many of you here tonight,” Sister Vivian said. “God’s blessings for you and Brescia University.”

Sister Vivian is the sixth Ursuline Sister honored as Distinguished Alumni, joining Sisters Ruth Gehres, Joseph Angela Boone, Rose Marita O’Bryan – who were all in attendance Sept. 20 – as well as Sisters Dianna Ortiz and Michele Morek.


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