John Gabbert Bowman

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John G. Bowman circa 1935

John Gabbert Bowman (May 18, 1877 – December 2, 1962) was the tenth Chancellor (1921–1945) of the University of Pittsburgh and the ninth President (1911–1914) of the University of Iowa.

He is best known for initiating and completing the 42-story Cathedral of Learning, the centerpiece of Pitt's campus, over the objections of many faculty and community members. At the time it was the tallest educational structure in the world. He also established the University of Pittsburgh Press and oversaw the institution of controversial athletic policies that resulted in the resignation in popular head football coach Jock Sutherland.[1]

Bowman was the first University of Iowa alumnus to become its President, as well as the school’s first Iowa-born chief administrator. He earned the B.A. degree in 1899, the M.A. in 1904, and the Litt.D. in 1934. He became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity as an undergraduate.

He also worked as a journalist in Iowa and Illinois, taught in a one-room rural Iowa school and at Columbia University. From Columbia he worked at the newly founded Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

In 1915 he became the founding director of the American College of Surgeons, where he served until 1921.

Bowman was born in Davenport, Iowa. He married Florence Ridgway Berry and they had two children. He died at age 85 on December 2, 1962 in Bedford, Pennsylvania.


  • The World That Was, nonfiction (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1947).
  • Nationality Rooms of the University of Pittsburgh, with Ruth Crawford Mitchell and Andrey Avinoff, nonfiction (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1947).
  • Happy All Day Through, poetry (Chicago: P.F. Volland Company, 1917).


  • The John G. Bowman Papers are housed at the University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives.
  • The Chancellor Bowman Administrative Files are housed at the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh.


  1. ^ "Boot for Bowman". Time. 1939-10-02. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  • Alberts, Robert C. (1987). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787-1987. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
George Edwin MacLean
President of the University of Iowa
Succeeded by
Thomas Huston Macbride
Preceded by
Samuel McCormick
University of Pittsburgh Chancellor
Succeeded by
Rufus Fitzgerald