Mark Bowen’s distinguished service expanded UNMC’s impact

Mark Bowen

Mark Bowen

Mark Bowen is a connector.

That’s how his longtime colleague Bob Bartee describes Bowen.

After Bowen joined UNMC in 2007 as its director of government relations, he built connections with UNMC’s research community. Bowen set out to learn first-hand from faculty and staff their priorities and strengths in the field of research – and then connected them to targeted government funding opportunities, said Bartee, who retired as UNMC’s vice chancellor for external relations.

Bowen is respected for building relationships and trust. That’s critical for a government relations director in connecting with elected officials, agency leaders and program officers at the federal, state or local levels.

Combining those connections with his experience in government, Bowen became instrumental in expanding UNMC’s research – especially in the areas of biopreparedness and national defense. He’s credited with the idea of establishing UNMC and the University of Nebraska as a University Affiliated Research Center with the U.S. Department of Defense, and he played a crucial role in UNMC becoming a NETEC center, now known as a National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center, through the federal government.

“Mark was the right person at the right time to help UNMC achieve its expanding mission, particularly in the growth of our research enterprise,” Bartee said. “He has high integrity, vast expertise and keen dedication to extending UNMC’s presence nationally and internationally.”

After working those connections for 16 years at UNMC, Bowen is retiring as director of government relations.

A retirement reception is scheduled for today (Feb. 12) to celebrate his career. The event will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the Truhlsen Events Center, room 1001A, in the Sorrell Center, and the med center community and friends and colleagues of Bowen are invited to attend. Refreshments will be served. Remarks are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

Across the med center and government, colleagues of Bowen are recognizing him for his behind-the-scenes leadership, his trusted advice and his dedicated public service that built up UNMC and the nation.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said that without Bowen’s leadership and perseverance, “UNMC would not have the scope of positive relationships with federal agencies and departments that we currently enjoy.”

“From his work in developing the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) to his diligence in securing partnerships in research, infectious disease, biopreparedness and more, Mark’s work was essential to building UNMC, the University of Nebraska System and Nebraska Medicine,” Dr. Gold said. “Most importantly, his work’s benefits are still being felt today, as we partner with many stakeholders to find cures and treatments for debilitating diseases and seek to build a nation and world that are safe from nefarious chemical and biological agents.”

James Linder, MD, CEO of Nebraska Medicine said, “Mark is the consummate professional. He was my trusted advisor when I had roles in university Central Administration, in the UNMC Chancellor’s Office and at Nebraska Medicine. He contributed to countless legislative successes that have built the med center to what it is today.”

When Bowen joined UNMC in 2007, he already had gained three decades of experience in government.

After graduating in 1978 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in journalism, he started his career as a communications specialist for the Lincoln Public Schools.

In 1981, Bowen went on to serve in the office of U.S. Sen. Jim Exon, first as press secretary and then as state director. He served under Sen. Exon for 15 years, in both Washington D.C. and Nebraska, cultivating the depth and breadth of his expertise in government relations as a leader in the office.

Bowen later served as a presidential appointee and state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and as chief of staff for Lincoln Mayors Don Wesely and Colleen Seng, before joining UNMC.

When he joined UNMC, Bowen called the position a blending of his past experiences. Advocating for health education and health sciences research was a natural evolution that tied back to his experience in legislation and education, he said at the time.

Bowen talked of connecting UNMC’s needs to available funding.

“Matching the needs of government and institutions can be challenging at times, but great fun,” he said then.

Bartee, now senior advisor to the chancellor, credited Bowen with the original idea to establish the University of Nebraska and UNMC as a University Affiliated Research Center with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since 2012, the NSRI, through its partnership with U.S. Strategic Command, has received $255 million in research awards and contracts through researchers across the University of Nebraska – including UNMC investigators in a diverse array of fields.

Following the Ebola outbreak of 2014 – and the med center’s leadership in caring for Ebola patients – UNMC earned a leadership role in establishing the federal government’s National Ebola Training and Education Center. Operating with significant federal grant funding, the center later broadened its responsibility as the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center – with UNMC continuing in a prominent leadership role in national biopreparedness.

NETEC stands out as one of Bowen’s proudest accomplishments in connecting UNMC with federal partners.

Bowen also designed and implemented the Student Delegate Program for UNMC students to advocate for public policy in the health arena.

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon said he is grateful to Bowen for his work and friendship, and the congressman wished Mark and his family all of the best in his retirement.

Said Congressman Bacon, “From his many years of service to the United States Senate, to his record of leadership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Mark Bowen has built a distinguished legacy of public service that will continue to impact Nebraskans, as well as our entire country, for decades to come. In particular, his work in recent years has not only bolstered UNMC, but has also better prepared and protected our nation from future threats. Further, he helped me and our Congressional office better represent our district with his winsome counsel and collaboration.”

Bowen has been married to wife and high school sweetheart, Nancy, since 1980. They have twin daughters Elizabeth Flowerday (husband Seth) and Anne Fischer (husband Daniel), along with grandchildren Clare and Lucy Flowerday. Fischer is senior assistant to the UNMC chancellor.

Christopher Kratochvil, MD, who succeeded Bartee as UNMC’s vice chancellor for external relations and also serves as distinguished chair of the UNMC Global Center for Health Security, said he is reminded every day of the critical work Bowen did to develop and establish so many of the external partnerships that UNMC enjoys.

“So many of our federal collaborations ranging from NETEC to the Training, Simulation and Quarantine Center to C-STARS simply would not have been possible without Mark’s work,” Dr. Kratochvil said. “They are foundational for the national health security initiatives UNMC leads today.”


  1. Donald Leuenberger says:

    Mark, congratulations on a remarkable career with such significant impact! UNMC was fortunate to have your service.

  2. Tom O’Connor says:

    Bravo, Mark, on a job exceptionally well done!

  3. Karen Burbach says:

    Kudos on an impactful career, Mark – and best wishes in retirement!

  4. Rick Spellman says:

    Mark wide range of projects, state and federal connections and experiences always amazed me. Mark was truly a pleasure to work with whenever the opportunity arose. Rick.

  5. John Fischer says:

    Congratulations on your stellar career & retirement Mark. You have had a major impact in all the areas you have worked. We look forward to great things to come in your retirement. Best wishes to you & Nancy!

  6. Sandra Brandt Leeling says:

    Congratulations on your many successes, best wishes on your retirement. Always great to celebrate a classmates (Nemaha Valley HS Class of 1974) success! Hope to see you at our 50th Class Reunion this summer.

  7. Dr. Howard Liu, Chair Dept. Psychiatry says:

    Mark has been truly instrumental in the success of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) and a staunch advocate for healthcare access throughout his career. He is a selfless, dedicated advocate and his career has transformed the landscape of UNMC and public health across Nebraska. Truly a class act!

  8. Susan Kraft Mann says:

    Congratulations, Mark, on an incredible career! We sincerely appreciate everything that you have done to advance UNMC and the State of Nebraska. We wish you and your family all the best in this next chapter of your life!

  9. Bob Petersen says:

    Congratulations, Mark, on a wonderful career. You made a difference. It is so impressive to see this recap of your accomplishments. Doris and I send our best wishes.

  10. Lynne Boyle says:

    Congratulations to you Mark! I enjoyed working with you over the years as part of the AAMC’s Government Relations Steering Committee leadership and learning from your vast experience. Best to you in your retirement!

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