Department of Higher Education bestows Community Service Award on Fairfield University scholar

Image: Betsy BowenOne person making a difference in people's lives received a big honor last Tuesday evening for her personal commitment to educating adult literacy learners. Betsy Bowen, an English professor at Fairfield University was honored by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education for her outstanding volunteer service in the higher education community. She was presented with the 2011 Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Award at an event held at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford.

Known as a role model and mentor to others, Bowen was recognized for her dedicated work with the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport, a non-profit group that provides basic literacy and life skills training to low-income women. "It's an honor to receive this award. I'm grateful to the staff and students at Mercy Learning Center who have made me and my students welcome there. I am also grateful to the university for their encouragement for and support of this work," said Bowen.

According to the Department of Higher Education, the state-wide community service awards are given out annually, and recipients were selected based on projects that distinctly serve a community, incorporate originality and unique approaches to community service and substantially raise student participation in addressing community needs.

Bowen explained that at Mercy Learning Center, she has been able to bring together her research, teaching, and service. "When I began there ten years ago, I simply wanted to volunteer because I was interested in literacy. I became so interested in the issues around adult basic education that I began to write about it," added Bowen.

Bowen, who is also the director of the writing center at Fairfield University said she is pleased to see the relationship between Fairfield University and Mercy Learning Center grow. "Other people from the university have tutored there, served on the Board, and contributed in a variety of ways," she said.

A Fairfield resident, Bowen's academic career accomplishments allow her to sport another impressive title - Connecticut professor of the year for 2010. The U.S. Professors of the Year program honors the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country - those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students.

Bowen, who has been teaching undergraduate students at Fairfield University since 1988, earned her bachelor's degree from Colby College, a master's degree from Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English, and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on April 18, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 277

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