Alice Rowe leaves lasting legacy at WKU

Elliott Pratt

Nora Alice Rowe spent a lot of time traveling and living all over the United States, but she made her home in Bowling Green at WKU, impacting students for over 20 years.

Before settling in Bowling Green, Rowe earned her master’s degree in English from the University of Louisiana, New Orleans after earning her bachelor’s from the University of Texas in Austin.

Rowe died of cancer on May 28. She was 82.

Known as a kind, gentle woman by her friends and colleagues, Rowe began her career at WKU in 1974 at the Helm Library before earning her master’s degree in library science in 1975.

She dedicated her career to helping students reach their educational goals.

Even though Rowe retired from the university in 1995 as head of academic support, her legacy lives on through the Alice Rowe Learning Assistance Center at WKU South Campus – dedicated in her honor in 2004. She was also a designated Kentucky Colonel.

“She was a sweet and gentle woman,” Jan Duvall, coordinator of the Alice Rowe Learning Assistance Center, said. “She had such a pride about Western students and a desire for them to learn that she wanted them to have a place where it would have the support for their learning to be successful.

“It was something she was extremely passionate about.”

Rowe started a re-entry center for nontraditional students in 1986 and later on designed and directed the Academic Enrichment Program at the WKU Community College now titled the WKU South Campus.

It was at the Community College where professor Freda Mays first met Rowe for her first interview for a teaching job.

“She was a caring individual who really cared for students,” Mays said. “It was obvious that her main concern was always the student.”

Her care and drive for student success at WKU played into the daily motives of the teachers she hired, said Mays. Rowe taught her faculty how to read into and listen to what a student’s needs really were.

“Sometimes they tell you what they need, and sometimes you have to read between the lines,” Mays said. “She taught all of us how to truly listen to students.”

Sherry Reid replaced Rowe as the head of academic support and said when she took the job, she knew she was filling the shoes of a legend.

“When I went to visit her when she was sick, I told her ‘I took your position, but I could never take her place’,” Reid said.

When Reid visited Rowe in late March, she was receiving hospice care at her home. As she got sicker, she was moved to the Hospice House on Scottsville Road.

Reid was vacationing in Florida with her family when she heard the news of Rowe’s passing.

“I was watching a film in a museum when my cell phone rang,” Reid said. “My first thought was that I was glad it didn’t last any longer than it did.

“She is at peace.”

Alice is survived by her two children, daughter A. Delaire Rowe, son Hazen Rene Rowe and daughter-in-law Cindy Rowe, grandchildren Alex and Laurel Rowe and Jolie Finley; and great-grandson Jackson Rowe.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Chandler Memorial Chapel at WKU, where her remains will be kept.

Support, independence, and success are three words engraved on a plaque in the Alice Rowe Learning Assistance Center that honors the woman Reid called a legend. Mays echoed the thoughts of herself, Reid, Duvall, and anyone else whose life was impacted by Alice Rowe.

“We’ve lost a great lady.”