Robert & Ellen Thompson

BGSU dedicates historic quadrangle to Thompsons in recognition of their support for students

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News On Friday, Robert and Ellen Thompson were back on the lawn in front of University Hall. This is where it started for them. Back in June 1954 when Ellen Bowen graduated with an education degree from Bowling Green State University, commencement ceremonies were held here as they were a year later when Robert Thompson graduated, also with an education degree. From left, BGSU President Rodney Rogers, Sandy Earle, Robert and Ellen Thompson. They were Falcon Flames, having met at a fraternity-sorority mixer. His future, Robert Thompson said, was engaged to a doctor, but she broke that off to marry an unemployed construction worker. One, he said, who struggled because of dyslexia — he took freshman English three times. She started teaching as did he until he went into the Air Force. When he came out, he returned to construction. They bought a company with her savings, and over the decades made millions building roads. Then decades later when the Thompsons sold the business, they made national headlines because they shared $128 million of the proceeds from the sale with the company’s 550 employees, turning some of them into millionaires. The Falcon Flames never forgot where their road started. Over the years Robert and Ellen Thompson have given $30 million to BGSU, and have made further commitments, said Dave Kielmeyer, the university’s chief information officer. Much of that money has gone into scholarships. Thompson Scholars walk from Bowen-Thompson Student Union to dedication ceremony. So on Friday the couple was back on the lawn outside University Hall to celebrate the naming of the space the Bowen-Thompson Quadrangle.  The quadrangle is, President Rodney Rogers said, the most iconic space on campus, bounded on the east by its first building, University Hall.  “This is a special moment,” he said. Because of the Thompsons’ gift, thousands of students have had and will continue to have “access to a world class education.” President Rodney Rogers with Robert Thompson The Thompsons are “two individuals who serve as role models for all of us, beacons for what it means to live a life of meaning and service.” Rogers concluded his remarks echoing the theme of BGSU current comprehensive fundraising campaign:  “You are truly changing lives for the world.” In attendance were a couple hundred students wearing orange t-shirts signifying them as Thompson scholars. “The Thompsons have impacted a huge number of our…