The GOWDY Family




Professor retires after almost 50 years


Ken Gowdy, associate dean of engineering, plans to retire from K-State in June. Gowdy started his time at K-State in 1950, when he was recruited to play Big 7 football for Kansas State College.

A fter nearly half a century on K-State's playing field, Ken Gowdy, associate dean of engineering, will retire his academic jersey in mid-June.

Recruited to play Big 7 football for Kansas State College as an undergraduate in 1950, Gowdy said his days as a student athlete helped him fuse teamwork and a winning attitude into his roles as a teacher and administrator.

"I'm not sure students today understand what an opportunity it was to attend college in those days. It was fairly unusual. Most of us came from families who didn't go to college," Gowdy said.

While class president in 1954, Gowdy finished his final year of football with a 6-3-1 season. He transferred from business to engineering at the end of his freshman year and accumulated 160 hours before graduating in 1955. He was also in the Sigma Chi fraternity.

"It was the thrill of attending college compiled with the opportunity to play Big 7 football. Sports had a lot to offer whether you win or lose. Sometimes the opportunity and will to play makes you a winner," he said.

While serving two years in the Air Force, Gowdy, an ROTC graduate, returned to Manhattan for a basketball game against Iowa State. A chance meeting with Dean M. A. Durland's daughter during halftime resulted in Gowdy returning to K-State as a part-time instructor and assistant dean while pursuing his master's degree.

"When you get to this age, you start to wonder how your life takes certain turns, and as close as I can tell, it all came down to attending that basketball game," Gowdy said.

"I went to see Dean Durland after the game and he asked me what I was doing and what I planned to do. Six weeks later, a letter came offering me a job."

Gowdy said he's seen the College of Engineering expand and improve greatly under the leadership of Dean Donald Rathbone.

"He has added a lot to this University, which is now a major research institution with the breadth one expects of a research institution. There are very strong programs in all of the colleges," Gowdy said.

He earned his doctorate at Oklahoma State. After a five-year stint as head of the engineering technology department at Texas A&M, Gowdy returned to work with K-State students.

In recent years, Gowdy has taught four to six hours each semester, including career development, thermodynamics and engineering concepts.

"The students are the best of what I'm going to miss. It's gratifying to work with people in that phase of life and open their eyes and help prepare them for what lies ahead," Gowdy said. "I don't think I'm unique because that's why most people are here."

Gowdy said he'll miss the daily opportunity for interaction in the Dean's office but likes discussing personal values and ethics with students in his honors colloquium best.

"We are not trying to impose any set of values on them. But we encourage them to think through the set of values that they hold and identify a set of principles that will sustain them throughout their life," Gowdy said.

"Young people in the age bracket of 18-22 are just tremendous to be around. They have so much energy and potential, and to be able to do that for 40 years makes you a blessed individual."

Gowdy's principles are based on strong belief in God. His early morning prayer and reading scriptures evolved into writing poetry. In 1994, he published two collections of poetry called "The Beauty of God" and "The Wondrous Works of God."

Besides reading books on history, cosmology and theology, Gowdy said he also plans to experiment in nature photography during retirement.

Gowdy will celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary this summer with a commemorative trip to Victoria, British Columbia. He and his wife, Dolores, have four children and 10 grandchildren

This item was published on Tuesday, March 11, 1997