Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles had a great capacity for caring. His activities—in business, in politics, and on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—have shaped the destiny of people and institutions in our state.
An investment banker and successful entrepreneur, he served as head of the State Department of Conservation and Development, the forerunner of the Department of Commerce, under Governor Terry Sanford. Later, he served two years in the North Carolina House of Representatives and four in the Senate before earning the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1972.
Skipper enjoyed solving human problems. He was convinced that alcoholism is a biological problem that can be solved, and so, while in the General Assembly, he sponsored the legislation that created the Center for Alcohol Studies.
He served with great distinction on the University's Board of Trustees for eight years, and served as its Chair for one year. He was a member of the General Alumni Association Board of Directors and received that Association's Distinguished Service Medal in 1982. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill bestowed its highest award, the University Award, upon Skipper in 1983.
Many remember him as the man who led the campaign that raised more than $30 million to construct the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center. Though stricken with Lou Gehrig's Disease, Skipper Bowles was there for the building's opening, which occurred just a few months before his death in 1986.
In these and many other ways, Skipper Bowles demonstrated his commitment to and love for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a relationship that began for him as a member of the Class of 1941. The family's ties to Chapel Hill and to Carolina Blue run deep. Two of his brothers attended the University and three of Skipper's four children earned their degrees from Carolina.
Skipper Bowles' contributions live on today through the Center and building that share his name. His sensitivity to human need, his perseverance, and his commitment to caring created this site for research, treatment, and prevention of alcoholism.