Gatepost Interview: Christopher Bowen, Associate professor of communication arts, Faculty Member of the Year

Associate Professor of Communication Arts Christopher Bowen was named Faculty Member of the year. (Photo by Brad Leuchte).

Can you describe your resume and background?

I have an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University. I have a master’s of science in film production technology from Boston University. I have 17 years of college-level teaching. I did work in the film commercial industry for a while, and I still have my own business on the side when I do my own personal projects. I’ve been with FSU for seven years and I just received tenure. That went active this academic year and a promotion to associate professor. So those were good things for me.

What was your favorite undergrad experience?

I recall taking two levels of art history courses. … I was not an art history major. … I was an American history major. To sit in those rooms, those amphitheater dark rooms back then in the  80s when it was slide projections – no digital computers – and to have someone talk about these several hundred-year-old paintings and different movements of painting and sculptures, that was nothing I had ever studied before. It’s really nothing I have ever done since because I’m not an artist in that studio-art-sense of the word. But I believe it was an eye-opening moment to be able to look at things that were art coming from the liberal arts education, which I have and still support. It really affected how I talked about film making and how I view the use of light and color and composition and such things. Had I not been sort of bold in taking art history classes as an undergraduate, I may not have been as effective in an unknown career path that I eventually took. It’s a really meaningful aspect of something that happened to me in an academic level and a profession level as an undergraduate.

What was it like to be part of the Authors and Artists Series?

I thought it was great. I felt honored to be selected to be a part of that. To be able to share the work you do outside of school and to let the whole campus. … Show up and kind of share what you have gone through, because a lot of this work we do takes up a lot of time. Sometimes, it can be painful. And to balance it out with your regular life and professional and everything else is a challenge. To have the opportunity to share my experience with others not to be, “Look what I did,” but to say, “If you’re interested in doing a similar thing, be aware of these aspects of it. Some of them are great. Some of them are going to be very trying.”

What is it like to win the faculty of the year award?

It seems unreal and I was totally shocked and surprised. It wasn’t even in my consciousness that such a thing would happen. So to see it, I almost thought I was being pranked in some way. … I think it’s fantastic. … And I question how they vote for it and how many people showed up. Why me? There are so many wonderful people that work here. I think it’s great. But I am surprised.

What are some of your hobbies?

A recent hobby is motorcycling. I got into motorcycling as an adult just last year. I won’t quite say I’m obsessed, but I’m incredibly interested in the sport and the practice. So that is absolutely something that really occupies as much of my times as possible these days. Short of that, I don’t have really fun, cool or interesting hobbies. I commute a lot because I work so far from my home. I teach a lot. In my free time these days, because I bought a house recently, I’m doing home repairs. I’m learning those types of things, and they are not specifically traditional hobbies. I’m always researching video stuff and things like that because it is my interest and part of my job.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?

I do believe in the existence of Sasquatches living in the wilds of the North American continent. … Until they are proven, they will stay a mystery. I like to be open to the possibility of such things. I think that might be a surprise to some. My students who take my class know that about me. I share that because, why not? What if? I like to ask, “What if it exists?” “What if it’s out in the woods somewhere?” It’ll be kind of cool or scary – I don’t know. I’ve never seen one. I hope not to, but I kind of think that they are out there.     

What advice would you give to FSU students?

You should really value learning for learning’s sake and using your time while an undergraduate student wisely to explore the things that you want to learn. Know that sometimes, those choices may not make sense right now to yourself or to others. Sometimes friends and parents or others get involved and say, “Why would you want to take that? What kind of job can that get you?” … Having your main focus and concentration within your major is great, but you have to be open to the possibility of other things you can pick up in surprising and unexpected places.

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