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Jeff Bowen looks back on a remarkably diverse business and teaching career

Jeff Bowen

Jeff Bowen

Jeff Bowen is a humble guy. He attributes many of his expansive career opportunities and accomplishments simply to coincidence.

“It’s curious,” said Bowen. “Much of my career seems to have been coincidental—being in the right place at the right time.”

The Daniels Department of Management teaching associate professor—who retired from Daniels in June—has achieved far too much to write off as good luck. You don’t run a real estate investment business, serve as mayor pro-tem and city councilmember, become a sought-after advisor, arbitrator, not-for-profit founder and university professor without a bedrock of deep experience and strong relationships.

If all of that is luck, Bowen is “lucky” in the same way as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, one of several people linked to the aphorism, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

Prior to teaching, Bowen spent much of his professional career with Investment Management Group Ltd. (IMG) in Denver and Vail, Colorado, which managed investment partnerships representing roughly 1,000 investors.

Including his time with IMG, Bowen spent more than 35 years as CEO, VP, director or advisor to firms in the areas of investments, asset management, real estate investments and manufacturing.

His broad business experience brought him to teaching—fatefully. A BA in government and an MS and PhD in business administration didn’t hurt either.

After creating a seminar for Colorado Mountain College on municipal governance in a resort community, Bowen received a call from the dean of the school’s Vail campus asking if he would teach a management course. The opportunity appealed to him. Another request followed.

“Two weeks before class, he asked if I would also teach a marketing class and an introductory business course,” said Bowen. “I declined but he said, ‘Here’s my problem. The guy who was scheduled to teach these courses just dropped dead.’

“I couldn’t say no,” Bowen continued. “I taught all three courses.”

After moving back to Denver in the mid-’90s, Bowen attended a business luncheon and—coincidentally —befriended the regional VP of the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Bowen developed an interest in arbitration and mediation, and became certified as a commercial arbitrator and mediator.

“I conducted arbitrations for the AAA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Eagle County, resolving general business disputes, securities conflicts, real estate taxation and boundary disputes and a myriad of other business conflicts,” said Bowen. “It was the foundation for developing my course on dispute resolution, which was my favorite course to teach at Daniels.”

By that time, Bowen had reached out to then-Daniels Dean Jim Griesemer, who he had known—coincidentally—through his work in municipal government, to inquire about teaching opportunities. Griesemer connected him with then-Department of Management Chair Bob McGowan and Bowen joined the Daniels faculty in 2004.

In addition to dispute resolution, Bowen taught Principles of Management, Business Policy and Strategy, Leading a Not-for-Profit—which he also created—and the Human Resources course.

Jeff Bowen

Courtesy Jeff Bowen

“Jeff has a genuine affection for his students and it comes right back to him,” said Dennis Wittmer, former department chair. “Teaching is about relationships and Jeff is very adept at maintaining relationships with students. They would consistently connect with him after graduation.

“That reaction isn’t surprising because Jeff is such a considerate and caring human being,” Wittmer added. “He was raised with the virtues of respect and etiquette, and he practiced those virtues every day.”

Bowen said he will deeply miss his Department of Management “family.” He plans to seek not-for-profit opportunities, perhaps write one more book collating his classroom simulations and then catch up on missed ski days with Wittmer, who is also his ski partner.

If luck was involved in any of this, it’s that Daniels has been lucky to have had Jeff Bowen.