Student receives degree half century after enrollment

President Randy Dunn awards Bill Lowry his degree after 51 years. || Photo courtesy of Academic Affairs

President Randy Dunn awards Bill Lowry his degree after 51 years. || Photo courtesy of Academic Affairs

Samantha Villanueva || Staff writer

A resident of McKenzie, Tenn., recently received his bachelor’s degree from Murray State after taking a 51 year break.

Bill Ted Lowry, who turned 74 this year, started his degree application in 1961 and with two classes left to go, decided to put the degree on pause.

Lowry said he took the pause for personal reasons, but after many years, he decided one of the best decisions he could make would be to come back and finish the degree he started.

“I took care of what I had to take care of and afterward, I realized it’s a good idea to just finish what I already started,” he said. “I mean, it is a bit late in the game but it is never too late to go back.”

The College of Business worked together to not only find out the graduation requirements for Lowry’s graduating year, but to make Lowry’s dream a success.

Many of the faculty who were involved in the process of aiding Lowry achieve his degree were at first shocked to hear and see an application being held for so long but all were happy to help him achieve it.

Bonnie Higginson, Provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said when she heard Lowry’s story, she was glad to have the chance to become involved.

“It quickly turned to be my fondest story of the summer,” she said. “An older gentleman contacted our office 51 years after he left the University and wanted to complete his degree.”

Higginson said one of the most surprising details about the story was Lowry kept all of his original information since the time he took his break. She sent all of his information to the Registrar’s Office, who looked up the graduation requirements for Lowry’s graduating year.

“We looked at what he had and saw that if they just substituted one course for the certain number of credits he needed, then he would have met the requirements for his degree,” she said.

Higginson said if there is anything that students take away from Lowry’s story, it is something both of them would agree on – never give up.

Higginson also said the underlying message in Lowry’s story would hopefully reach a larger audience.

“I also hope that students and/or people who attended college a long time ago realize that there is always a chance to achieve whatever dream they wish to dream,” she said. “It really is never too late and this is a perfect example of such a case.”

Lowry’s degree was presented to him by President Randy Dunn and Higginson herself in a private ceremony in the President’s office on Aug. 8. It was at Lowry’s request to have a low-key ceremony.

Apart from being one of the best stories she had heard about all summer, Higginson said she was proud to have been part of such a great life event.

Higginson said, “He said that it was the happiest day of his life.”

Lowry said his advice to current students would be to never think it is too late to complete anything.

Said Lowry: “Look at my story. I’m 74 years old and I am just now receiving my bachelor’s degree. Don’t ever give up hope on your goals.”