Vince Bowhay has had a successful six years at Fort Hays State University. What he wasn’t quite as successful at Thursday was holding back his emotions at a farewell reception.
Bowhay, who is moving to Buffalo on Monday to start a new job, said goodbye to friends and co-workers at Cody Commons in the Memorial Union. He was the union’s assistant director the last four years. He was hired in 2010 as coordinator for student involvement and Greek life and was in that position for two years before becoming assistant director.
Bowhay told those assembled he was grateful for the support he has had at FHSU.
“Thank you,” he said, then paused for several seconds before finally saying, “I love you guys.”
Edie McCracken, Memorial Union director, had a feeling these final few days could get emotional for her and Bowhay.
“We’ve both all week avoided talking about it because we might get a little emotional,” McCracken said. “He’s made a difference for me.
“It was a great working relationship that became a friendship. I don’t know what Monday will be like. I haven’t worked here without him.”
Friday was Bowhay’s last day on campus. He will be driving to Buffalo on Monday for his new job at Campus Labs. Its website says Campus Labs is a business focused on collecting student feedback to help improve campus services. The company provided TigerLink for FHSU, an online system that helps connect students with organizations and activities.
“This is a passion of mine,” Bowhay said.
Passion also describes Bowhay’s tenure at Fort Hays. He was instrumental in improving the Encore Series and re-instituting a campus lecture series. The Sebelius Lecture Series — named after former U.S. Rep. Keith Sebelius, who graduated from Fort Hays in 1941 — debuted in November 2013. The latest of the series was with two of the Apollo 13 astronauts and their mission control director.
“We really worked to honor Keith Sebelius’ legacy,” Bowhay said. “I think we’ve really done justice to someone who has been so notable.”
The Encore Series reached a new level under Bowhay. Its latest performance was a sold-out production of the Broadway musical “Annie” on Wednesday.
“I think I’m really proud of the direction the Encore Series has taken,” Bowhay said. “I think we’ve seen a major success.”
Bowhay said he has been helped along the way with supportive co-workers at Fort Hays. He always will remember them.
“I think the thing I’m going to remember the most is the people,” Bowhay said. “Fort Hays State is just full of welcoming, inclusive and inviting people that have made me feel more at home than anywhere I have been my entire life.”
With great pleasure comes great sorrow.
“I’ve cried probably five times today, people saying goodbye, because it’s such a hard transition when you love where you work and what you do and who you do it with,” Bowhay said. “You don’t get that very often.”
Aneli Delacruz, a sophomore from Salina who works in the recruitment and retention office for the Union Activities Board, said she will miss Bowhay.
“Just seeing him leave is really sad,” she said. “At the same time, I’m happy for him. I know he’s going to do great things.”
Lanee Young, associate professor of mathematics, served with Bowhay on the special events committee.
“He’s just a fun guy,” Young said. “Vince is great; he always has a smile on his face, but he takes his job very seriously.
“Of course it’s a loss for us. Best of luck to Vince. He’s excited to go to New York and try something completely different.”
McCracken said she and Bowhay share some of the same interests. Now she will have to find someone else to fill that void.
“We both love bad movies,” she said. “We both love pop culture.”
Bowhay loved his six years at Fort Hays.
“I am leaving here with nothing but positive memories,” he said. “I’m always going to be a proud Tiger.”