Members of the 30th class of WKU's Hall of Distinguished Alumni are (from left) Howard Bailey, Michelle James and the late Dr. Rebecca Shadowen.
A leader in higher education, a transformational marketing leader and a nationally recognized physician will join WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni this fall.
Howard Bailey, Michelle James and the late Dr. Rebecca Shadowen will be inducted during WKU’s 2021 Homecoming Celebration.
The 30th class of noted alumni will be recognized during a luncheon on Oct. 29 at Augenstein Alumni Center. The Hall of Distinguished Alumni is presented by Franklin Bank & Trust, a longtime supporter of WKU. For more information, contact the WKU Alumni Association at (270) 745-2586.
Howard Bailey, retired WKU Vice President for Student Affairs, has spent his life opening doors of opportunity and blazing a trail for civil rights and race relations in higher education. Except for a one-year stint at North Carolina State University, his entire career was dedicated to shaping lives at WKU.
Bailey came to WKU as a student in 1966 from Middlesboro in southeastern Kentucky. Though he was a third-generation college student, he was the first person in his family to attend a predominately white university. As an undergraduate student, Bailey was a founding member of Kappa Alpha Psi, the first Black fraternity at WKU. He was also the first Black male Residence Hall Assistant. Still an undergraduate student, Bailey began his WKU career as a full-time Assistant Hall Director at Barnes Campbell Hall in 1970. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in the 1971 and completed a Master of Arts degree in 1973. Over the next four decades, he served in roles that included Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Dean of Student Life, Associate Vice President and then Vice President of Student Affairs, a position he held for nearly eight years until his retirement in 2015.
Bailey is widely known as a leader in his field and has presented at conferences across the nation on leadership, race relations and a host of topics related to student affairs in higher education. In addition, Bailey spent a semester in 1995 in South Africa helping universities there rewrite their Student Government constitutions in the wake of the fall of Apartheid. He served a term as elected Staff Regent on the WKU Board of Regents, is a founding member of the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education and has served on the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission, the local NAACP, the U.S. Jaycees, United Way, BGMU Board and the Inquiry Commission of the Kentucky Bar Association.
Bailey has always believed in the power of education to change lives, particularly the lives of Black students. Beyond his professional role, Bailey has been a mentor and friend to countless students and young professionals. Bailey and his wife, Kayla, live in Bowling Green and have a son and daughter-in-law, Malcolm and Melissa.
Michelle June James is a transformational marketing leader with a proven track record of injecting energy into organizations and leading innovative campaigns that increase brand visibility, drive revenue and deepen audience engagement.
Currently, James is at Facebook, Inc. in New York, N.Y., as Head of Culture and Community Marketing for the Instagram platform. In this role, she leads the development and execution of Instagram’s global cultural strategy and identifies key moments to activate the Instagram brand in partnership with internal creative teams, communications, outside agencies and cross-functional partners.
With a deep understanding of the general market, as well as multicultural and millennial audiences, she is skilled at deciphering complex data sets to glean impactful and actionable insights and solutions. Her brand work and marketing campaigns have been recognized by NAMIC, Cablefax, PromaxBDA and ESSENCE magazine.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Psychology at WKU, James completed a Master of Science in Print and Digital Media at New York University. She also completed the Cable Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School and is an alumna of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute. Prior to joining Facebook, James directed the management and development of consumer marketing strategies, media partnerships and live events for shows like T-Pain’s School of Business, The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle West and the ALMA Awards for Fuse Media.
As part of the Google Podcasts creator program, James launched the podcast Cocktails and Cancer with MJ and Daniin 2019. Created to inspire and empower women to have real conversations about cancer, the show provided an immersive mix of social/cultural commentary and storytelling that shared the journey of two best friends after a breast cancer diagnosis. The podcast was featured in US Today and on Today with Hoda and Jenna.
Previously, James directed the management and development of consumer marketing’s 360 consumer and brand strategies for BET Networks. She spearheaded 100+ campaigns including the premiere of The New Edition Storyminiseries (the highest premiere in five years for the network), amassing 29 million viewers. She also led the brand activation at BET Experience at L.A. Live, an annual three-day festival attracting more than 250,000 attendees each year.
Dr. Rebecca Shadowen
The late Dr. Rebecca Shadowen was a nationally recognized Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist at Med Center Health in Bowling Green and a leader with the Bowling Green-Warren County Coronavirus Workgroup.
An early advocate of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Shadowen tested positive for the virus in May 2020. Though she continued to work, answer calls and emails, and attend workgroup meetings from her hospital bed throughout her illness, she passed away in September 2020 after a four-month battle with the disease.
Born in Louisville and raised in Bullitt County, Dr. Shadowen came to WKU as a student in 1976. After graduation, she attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She completed Internal Medicine training as a resident at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and specialized in Infectious Disease at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C.
In 1989, Dr. Shadowen returned to Bowling Green to begin her practice. The first person to bring expertise of infectious diseases to south central Kentucky, she was on the hospital staff for 31 years and specialized early in her career in treating people with HIV/AIDS and Lyme disease. She also assisted people who wished to go on mission trips to foreign countries by helping them identify and receive vaccines and medications they might need while there. At the time of her infection, she was running treatment trials for COVID-19 and had helped establish and direct the COVID-19 Unit at Med Center Health.
Throughout her career, Dr. Shadowen cared for patients with infectious diseases in the hospital and in her office. She also enjoyed teaching medical students and residents at Med Center Health, including helping some with research projects. She did work with new investigational drugs, completed clinical publications and held teaching affiliations with three universities. In addition, she was elected to fellowship with both the American College of Physicians and the Society of Hospital Epidemiologists of America. In 2011, she was named Outstanding Woman of Achievement in Health and Science by the Bowling Green-Warren County Human Rights Commission.
Dr. Shadowen is survived by her husband, Dr. David Shadowen, whom she met as a student at WKU, as well as her children, Jesse and Kathryn.