CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at Campbellsville University and a former chair and board member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, has announced his retirement effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, with whom Chowning worked for 17 years, said, “John Chowning is one of the most gifted individuals I have ever met. He is great thinker, and he is wise in his approach to topics across a broad spectrum.
“John is a very good writer, an accomplished speaker, teacher and preacher. He is detailed and is a well-read public policy analyst on a broad array of topics.
“We will miss him on a day-to-day basis, but we are so fortunate he is serving in a new part-time role for the university.”
Chowning is retiring after 26 years of service to Campbellsville University. However, he will continue to work part time as executive assistant to the president for government, community and constituent relations being in January 2016.
Chowning became involved in fundraising with Campbellsville University in 1989 and became a member of the university’s Board of Trustees in 1992.
He continued on the board for the next seven years, serving as chair in 1996 and 1997. He became a full-time employee in February 1998.
Dr. Joseph L. Owens, who is serving his fifth term as chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, said, “Dr. John Chowning is a shining example of selfless service that has made a difference in many lives at Campbellsville University. He is highly motivated, personable and a spirit filled man of God.
“His love for the Lord is exemplified in his Christ-like character, as well as his concern for excellence in diversity, diplomacy and the development of bridge building relationships.”
Owens said, as Chowning transitions into retirement, the university is blessed he will continue serving part time.
“On behalf of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, I want to express the deepest appreciation for Dr. John Chowning and the service he has rendered to our president, our university and our board,” Owens said.
Serving as executive vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president has been “a very humbling and rewarding career path in which God’s divine guidance has been evident in the progress CU has been,” Chowning said.
He taught as an adjunct for several years in Campbellsville University’s political science department. He has served as chair of the university’s diversity committee, strategic planning and University Council.
Chowning founded and has directed the Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy at Campbellsville University which has hosted a wide array of speakers and forums on a host of public policy issues.
Chowning has been involved in many endeavors at Campbellsville University including race reconciliation, establishing Dialogue on Race, a project dear to his heart. He has served as a leader of Greater Campbellsville United, the focus of which is to help create an environment of equality and opportunity for all residents of Campbellsville-Taylor County and the heartland region of Kentucky.
Chowning was one of the founding members of Team Taylor County (Campbellsville-Taylor County Economic Development Authority) and served for several years as chair and continues as a member of the board.
He received the Governor’s Economic Development Leadership Award in 1999 and was named Citizen of the Year for Campbellsville-Taylor County two separate years by the Campbellsville-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce.
Chowning was founding member of the Center for Rural Development and former chair; founding member of the Southern Kentucky Economic Development Corporation and former chair; founding member and former board member and secretary of Forward in the Fifth education reform group.
With his work with the Economic Development Authority in Campbellsville, he was instrumental in organizing a dislocated worker program at Campbellsville when Fruit of the Loom closed in Campbellsville in 1997-98.
Sheila Douglas, who was one of those dislocated workers and who has served with Chowning 16 years as his administrative assistant, said, “Dr. Chowning is not only my immediate supervisor, but a friend and coworker. I have great respect for Dr. Chowning.”
She said, “Through my position at CU as Dr. Chowning’s secretary, I have made friends with wonderful people around the world, who have influenced my Christian growth, allowed me to see the world through God’s eyes and touched my heart to share the love of Christ with all people in this very diverse world.”
With the support of CU presidents Dr. Ken Winters and Carter, Chowning proposed the university’s Technology Training Center and coordinated efforts to secure funding for the project by working with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Chowning has left his mark on Campbellsville University with the naming of the Pence-Chowning Art Gallery, the Chowning Art Shop, the Chowning Executive Dining Room and the Chowning Patio.
He and his wife, Cathy Pence Chowning, have established an endowed scholarship fund at Campbellsville University that provides annual scholarship awards to qualifying minority students.
In his role as a pastor, Chowing is an active member, former secretary of Taylor County Ministerial Association and is a member of the executive boards of Taylor County Baptist Association and Zion District Association of Baptists.
He has led his church, Saloma Baptist Church of which he has served as senior pastor since 1994, to become a member of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, the state’s historic black Baptist state convention – one of two historically Anglo Baptist churches to join the GABKY. He has been active in the life of the GABKY for the past several years.
Chowning has been recognized for his leadership in racial and ethnic reconciliation ministry and is a member of the Ecumenical Ministerial Alliance of Campbellsville-Taylor County.
Chowning has a master’s of public administration (planning emphasis) from Eastern Kentucky University; a bachelor of arts in political science from Transylvania University; and an associate of arts from Lindsey Wilson College.
He has completed several courses in the program of alternate studies at Memphis Theological Seminary and has completed additional graduate hours in education at EKU. He received an honorary doctorate of public service degree from Campbellsville University in December 2013.
His wife of 44 years, Cathy Pence Chowning, is a licensed physical therapist and works as a rehabilitation services director at a Campbellsville-area nursing home and rehabilitation center, and they are the parents of four children, including Kaleb Chowning, who works in the Office of Development at Campbellsville University, and have four grandchildren.
Chowning manages a family farm operation in his native Cumberland County, Ky. The Chownings have lived in Campbellsville for the past 38 years.
“From serving as trustee chair and vice chair and two terms as a board member to the past 18 years in my current role, my association with Campbellsville University has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful affiliations of my career,” Chowning said.(CU)