Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Dr Nicholas Bowen

Dr Nicholas Bowen 

CIOL’s President, Dr Nicholas Bowen HonFCIL, died on 17 September. He had been President since 2012, bringing enthusiasm, imagination and unfailing geniality to the many roles that he undertook. Nick was Chair of Council (1992-96), a member of the Examinations Review Board and later its Chair. He was a founder Trustee-Director of the new IoL Educational Trust (IoLET) in 2001, and its Vice-Chair from 2005 until he took on the role of CIOL President. Members of the Institute who have attended AGMs chaired by Nick will remember his imperturbable good humour, sometimes in contentious situations.

Nick went to Lancing College, followed by a degree in economics at the London School of Economics. He then took a Master’s at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, and spent some time teaching economics at Kent State University, before starting his PhD on Anglo-American and Argentine relations at Cambridge. In America, he met and married Joan Schaeffer, with whom he had three sons: Phillip, Alex and Chris.

After a period at the Regent School of English, Nick moved to the European Business School (EBS), at that time part of City University and now a constituent school of Regent’s University. At his retirement, he was Principal Lecturer in International Business, and shortly before his death he was awarded an Honorary Senior Fellowship by the university.

In 1983, Nick contacted the Institute seeking language examiners, as the EBS had campuses in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. That was the beginning of a long and fruitful association. He never shrank from difficult tasks, such as the review of the innovative Examinations in Languages for International Communication (ELIC), which had caused serious financial problems on their introduction in 1990. His analysis was delivered with characteristic sensitivity and clarity. In 2013, Nick chaired and guided the governance review that has paved the way for the changes which are ongoing across CIOL.

Nick was a thoroughgoing European. He co-authored International Business: Challenges and Choices (OUP, 2010) with Alan Sitkin. One of his notable achievements was travelling to eastern Europe, months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to open up opportunities for a new generation of students, and he continued to be involved in internationalism and education after his retirement, as a member of the European Government Business Relations Council. He will be sorely missed.


Words from Joan Bowen

Nick was very proud of the work that the Institute does in promoting internationalism and cooperation through languages. The Institute stands for everything that Nick believed in and promoted in his life, academically, socially and personally.


Memories from friends and colleagues

Ann Carlisle, CIOL Chief Executive

From my first interview Nick was supportive, encouraging us to think bigger and never to believe something wasn’t achievable. Nothing pleased him more than the journey in recent years to modernise and grow. At our last Council meeting with him in July his eyes lit up at news that we had topped 7,000 members. Hosting events with Nick, his generosity of spirit, warmth for humanity and gentle (but sometimes wicked!) humour shone through.


Karen Stokes, Chair of Council

I will remember Nick with great affection as a man of absolute decency and integrity. He brought wisdom and pragmatism to his role as President, and his knowledge of the organisation, insightful comments and gentle humour will be sorely missed around the Council table. Nick approached the task at hand with a light touch, and unwavering and selfless commitment to the best interests of CIOL. On a personal level, Nick’s unfailing support was invaluable.


Keith Moffitt, former Chair of Council

Nick took his role as President very seriously, but never without a deft humorous touch, getting constructively involved in many issues, including our governance review, which he led, and the appointment of a new Chief Executive. There were several Council meetings when a few skilful words from Nick helped us get over a sticky situation, for which I was deeply grateful. Nick’s elegant and engaging speeches at key moments, such as the 10th anniversary of our Royal Charter, were always perfectly suited to the occasion.


Chris Pountain, Chair of IoLET Board

We will honour Nick’s memory best by continuing to promote, actively and imaginatively, the work of CIOL.


Tim Connell, Vice-President

I worked with Nick in various contexts for nearly 30 years and always appreciated his pleasant manner and calm observations, tinged with constant humour. He was valuable as Deputy Chair of IoLET; there were some difficult times when several of us would sit down quietly and talk about finding ways forward, and his steadiness, sensible views and insights were of great value.


Jean Coussins, Vice-President

Nick was a great leader and a great colleague, always eager to hear from everyone round the table, and always committed to putting ideas into practice if humanly possible. He could liven up any meeting with a good joke, a new insight or some unexpected information (read gossip!). I was especially grateful to him for his assistance with the challenge of campaigning for fair treatment for the Afghan interpreters.


Richard Hardie, Vice-President

With Tony Bell, Nick persuaded me to become a CIOL Vice-President. I took to him immediately. He had a comprehensive, deeply serious view of the place of language learning in society, and was optimistic about its future, despite the challenges. We shared a passion for promoting the importance of intercultural sensitivity in business, which illuminated his distinguished career. My clearest memory of Nick is of him beaming at me from the front row at his beloved Regent’s College, after strong-arming me into giving a talk. It was very hard to say ‘no’ to him; he had given freely of so much of his time and energy that he carried tremendous moral authority, albeit lightly.


Michael Cunningham, former member of Council

Nick was very keen on cricket, particularly Hampshire; we were both seriously troubled by the county’s enduring ‘failure to deliver’, and would sometimes try to remember ourselves as teenagers, engrossed in the play and with all our lives in front of us. Nick was a good friend, he had a great laugh and spark.


Hilary Maxwell-Hyslop, former Director of Examinations

Nick was warm, witty and wise, and I valued his support immensely. Four of us used to lunch from time to time. After an analysis of the state of cricket, a happy interlude would follow where the latest dramas of The Archers were thoroughly dissected. After Trust Board meetings, Nick was to be found, sleeves rolled up and elbows in the sink, doing the washing up – without fail. It did give us an opportunity to share jokes of excruciating awfulness.


John Hughes, former Ambassador to Argentina; Chair of Canning House

Nick Bowen and I shared a friendship of 48 years. He was someone who listened, was even-tempered and a man of great integrity. His objective was to take people with him. He was held in high esteem at Canning House, where we asked him to produce an updated version of his original (1979) history – a task he, alas, could not finish.


Ann Corsellis OBE

I served with Nick as a member of CIOL Council when he was Chair, and as a

Vice-President when he was President. Nick had that rare combination of generosity of spirit, emotional and intellectual intelligence, and sound, principled judgement. He was accessible as a sounding board and a source of advice. Above all, he was the most agreeable and delightful colleague and friend.


Samir Capper CIOL member

My thoughts are with his loved ones. He will always be remembered as one who contributed mostly to the cause. Our aim is to continue what he started. He passed away but his spirit still lives on and he will watch over us. Let us unite and support our institute morally and financially.



I am deeply sad to hear the news. I met Dr Bowen many times during CIOL events and he was always very approachable and supportive. What a loss to our profession and mankind. My sentiments and prayers to the family.


Dr Nicholas Bowen Award for Excellence

This new prize for a student in the second year of the BA in International Business at Regent’s University London was awarded for the first time in November.