CU bestows honorary doctorate on John Chowning

CU bestows honorary doctorate on John Chowning

Dec. 16, 2013
For Immediate Release

The Rev. John Chowning, second from left, receives an honorary doctorate of public service from Campbellsville
University at the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony Dec. 13. Making the presentation, from left, were: Dr. Frank
Cheatham, senior vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Joseph Owens, chair of the CU Board of Trustees; and Dr. Michael V. Carter, president. (Campbellsville University Photo by Drew Tucker)

By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University bestowed an honorary doctorate of public service on the Rev. John Chowning, CU’s vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, who Dr. Michael V. Carter called a “renaissance man” during CU’s 4 p.m. commencement ceremony Dec. 13.

Carter called Chowning, with whom he has worked 15 years, an “incredible writer, thinker and problem solver.”

Dr. Joseph Owens, chairman of the CU Board of Trustees, and Dr. Frank Cheatham, senior vice president for academic affairs, made the presentation. Also, the Rev. Joel Carwile, pastor of Valley View Church in Louisville and a member of the CU Board of Trustees, received an honorary doctorate of divinity degree.

Carter said the greatest honor that can be granted by any college or university is that of the honorary doctoral degree. The honorary degree, which requires approval by the CU Board of Trustees, is given to those individuals who have displayed excellence in leadership, made extraordinary contributions to humanity and distinguished themselves in their respective professional fields.

“Rev. John Chowning has certainly met all of these requirements in his career in the public sector, in his important leadership roles in the church and in his many professional and civic achievements,” Carter said.

Chowning, who has been associated with CU for 25 years, previously served as chair and member of the CU Board of Trustees. He said he was “honored” with the doctorate, and said he was raised on a farm in Cumberland County and was taught by his parents to “give back.”

He is the founding director of CU’s Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy and has taught part time in the institution’s political science program.

Chowning also helped establish CU’s Heartland Center for Bivocational and Small Church Ministry and is involved in a number of other areas of university life (e.g., coordinating institutional church and external relations, directing CU’s strategic planning process, directing university communications and general marketing, serving as chair of several university committees and councils and having chaired CU’s centennial celebration).

Chowning has served on a number of boards, including serving as chair and vice chair of the University’s Board of Trustees prior to joining the administrative team; three terms on the Kentucky State Board of Elections; chair, vice chair and member of the board of the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center; charter member and former chair of The Center for Rural Development (he remains on the board); one of the founding members and past chair of Team Taylor County (Campbellsville-Taylor County Economic Development Authority – a board on which he still serves); and several others.

He is an ordained Baptist minister having served as senior pastor of Saloma Baptist Church since 1994. He is active in the Kentucky Baptist Convention life where he served for several years as convention parliamentarian and as a member and chair and vice chair of the Committee on Public Affairs.

Chowning 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 served as a member of the advisory council for the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency’s ten-county marriage enrichment program.

Chowning has been recognized for his leadership in racial and ethnic reconciliation ministry.

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 degree 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. His professional career has included serving as a public school teacher, public sector grant writer and planner, vice president and partner in a Lexington-based consulting firm, and director of economic development for former U.S. Representative Ron Lewis.

Chowning is a member of several professional and civic organizations and has received a number of awards, including the Governor’s Economic Development Leadership Award in 1999; Campbellsville-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 1998 and 2001; local Man of the Year by the local BPW Club in 1999; CU’s Faculty Challenger Award two different years; and many others.

His wife of 42 years, Cathy, is a licensed physical therapist and works as a rehabilitation director at a Campbellsville-area nursing home and rehabilitation center, and they are the parents of four children, Kacey Milby, a 1999 graduate of Campbellsville University; Kaleb Chowning, research and communications coordinator at CU and a 2005 CU graduate; Emily Chowning England and Laura Chowning, both CU 2004 graduates, and have four grandchildren: Jacob and Jacey Milby and Haley and Kenzi England.

Chowning manages a family farm operation in his native Cumberland County, Ky.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is

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