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Walter Lowen, former dean, dies at 84

Walter Lowen, 84, founding dean of the School of Advanced Technology (SAT), the precursor to the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, died May 3 at his home in Louisville, Ky., where he had recently relocated.

A professor of mechanical engineering at Union College when he was recruited to help launch the SAT in 1967, Lowen returned to teaching in 1977 at Binghamton as professor of systems science and industrial engineering. He retired in December 1990, then served the University for two more years as a Bartle professor.

Lowen was an innovator, according to colleague George Klir, distinguished professor of systems science and industrial engineering. “When he undertook the job as dean, it was a very innovative program,” Klir said. “He started something new from the standpoint of the organization and its content. He was very tolerant of ideas and he provided an environment that was very good for innovation. He was an outstanding leader in that sense.”

Michael McGoff, vice provost for strategic and fiscal planning, worked closely with Lowen in his former roles as assistant dean and acting dean of the SAT and associate dean of the Watson School. “Walter Lowen was the most forward-thinking, creative and caring teacher and mentor I ever knew,” McGoff said. “In creating the School of Advanced Technology, Walter had a vision and brought together the leading people in the field to create a wonderful opportunity for students from varying academic backgrounds to earn a master’s degree in one of these fields.

“He was brilliant,” McGoff added. “He went from a specialty in nuclear physics, where he was an award-winning teacher, to, later in his career, publishing.” Lowen’s 1982 book, Dichotomies of the Mind, dealt with a systems science model he created that used brain scanning devices to identify specific parts of the brain with various personality types.

Lowen was also caring and compassionate, said Bonnie Cornick, secretary I in systems science and industrial engineering. “I’ve known him since 1970,” she said. “He had great regard for all people, but especially his faculty, staff and students. When he started the school, it was a school for everyone. He wanted to create his own community, and he did.”

Lowen is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and two sons. In his honor, an endowment has been established in his name. Gifts can be made to the Binghamton University Foundation, Walter Lowen Student Endowment, account #2034050.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08