Former university vice president, Facebook department head, late local doctor inducted into Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Genesis Malone, News reporter

Three WKU Alumni will be inducted as members of WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni on Friday, Oct. 29.

Howard Bailey, Michelle James and the late Dr. Rebecca Shadowen will be inducted into the 30th alumni class during a luncheon at WKU’s 2021 Homecoming.

Howard Bailey

Provided by WKU

Howard Bailey received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science in 1971 and returned in 1973 to complete his Master of Arts degree.

As a third-generation college student, Bailey was the first of his family to attend a predominately white institution. According to the WKU Alumni Association, Bailey came to WKU as a student in 1966 from Middlesboro, Kentucky.

“The Western that I know, took a lot of everyday average kids, kids like Howard Bailey and black kids in particular and made something out of them and helped us along the way,” Bailey said.

Bailey was the first Black male Resident Assistant, and in 1970 became a full-time Assistant Hall director at Barnes Campbell Hall which has since been demolished. He also served as Assistant Dean and Dean of Student Life, Associate Vice President and then Vice President of Student Affairs until 2015. Bailey is also the founding member of Kappa Alpha Psi, the first Black fraternity at WKU.

Bailey has since continued his work as a leader in his field as a founding member of the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education, an elected Staff Regent on the WKU Board of Regents, the NAACP, United Way, the U.S. Jaycees and the Kentucky Heritage Commission.

“I am thankful that there were so many people that had an appreciation for what I tried to do in my 50 years at Western that they thought I was worthy of being put into this unique group of alumni,” he said.

Michelle James

Provided by WKU

After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Psychology at WKU, Michelle James also completed a Master of Science in Print and Digital Media at New York University.

James is an alumna of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute, she also completed the Cable Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School. James also directed the management and development of consumer marketing’s 360 consumer and brand strategies for BET Networks.

James then went on to launch the Cocktails and Cancer podcast with MJ and Dani in 2019. The podcast was created to inspire and empower women to have conversations about cancer. The podcast was featured in US Today and On Today with Hoda and Jenna. James also directed the management and development of consumer marketing strategies, media partnership and live events for shows like The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle West, T-Pain’s School of Business and the ALMA Awards for Fuse Media.

James is currently at Facebook Inc. In New York, N.Y., as Head of Culture and Community Marketing for the Instagram platform according to the WKU Alumni Association.

Rebecca Shadowen

Provided by WKU

The late Rebecca Shadowen, also known as Becky to her husband and friends, attended WKU in 1976. After graduation, she attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Shadowen completed Internal Medicine training as a resident at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and specialized in Infectious Disease at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C.

An early advocate of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Shadowen tested positive for the virus in May 2020.

Shadowen passed away Sept 11, 2020 and is survived by her husband, David Shadowen and two children.

She continued to work, answer calls and emails and attend workgroup meetings from her hospital bed throughout her battle with COVID-19. She passed away after a four-month battle with the disease.

“Doctors would call her up and text her and say ‘I need help with this kind of thing, or what do I do,’ and she would sit up on her laptop and text them and tell them ‘Well, they need this type of antibiotic’ while she was in intensive care,” David Shadowen said.

Shadowen was the first person to bring expertise of infectious diseases to South Central Kentucky. She worked at the hospital for 31 years and specialized early in her career in treating people with Lyme disease and HIV/AIDS.

“She was the parent that did everything, plus she was teaching people and writing papers in addition to taking care of patients,” David said. “In terms of the amount of work done, she did considerably more work than the average physician.”

Shadowen has received several dedications and tributes after her death including the Dr. Rebecca D. Shadowen Research and Education Fund. She has also been elected to the fellowship in the Society of Hospital Epidemiology of America and the American College of Physicians. She has also been awarded “Outstanding Woman of Achievement in Health and Science” by the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission.

News reporter Genesis Malone can be reached at [email protected].