He was there to welcome you at New Student Orientation, and he’ll be there to hand you your diploma as you cross the commencement stage. Bob Brower, President of Point Loma Nazarene University, is there, and he’s happy to be there.
Students might wonder what their president does all day. Does he sit in a shiny office and sign official papers? Or perhaps he surfs by Young Hall in the mornings, before changing into a suit and tie for top-secret lunch meetings. There’s only one thing we know for sure: he’s a busy guy.
Brower was elected the 14th president of PLNU in October 1997. Before his presidential title at PLNU, he was president at a Kansas City publishing company. Since earning his Ph.D. in organizational and interpersonal communication, he has worked in higher education for much of his career and is currently in his 22nd year of presidency.
Brower is also a grandfather of seven. He signs his emails “BB” and likes to read fiction when he gets a chance. A red gumball machine sits on his expansive wooden desk, containing colorful M&Ms that contrast the brown tones of the presidential office. On the rare weekends he is not traveling for work, Brower attempts to tame his front yard. Those shrubs just keep growing, he says.
The American Council on Education conducted an aptly named study, “The American College President Study,” to delve into the lives of these campus celebrities. The study found, “Today’s college and university presidents not only wear many hats but serve many constituents.”
If Brower’s hats were literal, they would add significant height to his six-foot frame. He is a member of the Board of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. He is also a member of the Board of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. He serves on the General Board and International Board of Education for the International Church of the Nazarene.
Brower is also a father. He’s a husband to Linda and a dedicated grandfather. There’s a balance that comes with his occupational roles and his everyday life. He proudly wears the title of the presidency, but his oldest grandson, Jeremy, recently stole the title of the tallest in the family.
“I’m not real big on titles and formalities,” he says.
His Ph.D. earned him the title of doctor, but he prefers his nickname, Bobby B, which doubles as the campus cafe’s namesake.
As commencement approaches, Brower considers the future of students and his own future as well. In regard to students, he says, “I’m really excited about their future, but I really hate that I won’t get to see them regularly. But I know that’s the job.”
For himself, he knows retirement will come eventually, but he loves this school, and he plans on handing out diplomas for a while longer.
Some days, Brower is an airport regular, flying to conferences and back-to-back meetings. Other days, he likes to walk down caf lane and visit the coffee shop with his nickname hanging above the door.
Most of the time, he is working with numerous people on a number of complex projects. But on other occasions, he waits in his office for his grandkids to stop by, nabbing a couple of M&Ms from that little red machine.