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Teaching Allows Alumnus to Connect the Dots of His Career

by Web on July 20, 2016

Daniel S. Bowling III, B.A. 1977, holds a unique distinction at Duke University School of Law.

Last year, he became the first non-tenure track faculty member at the school to receive its Distinguished Teaching Award, which includes a $5,000 stipend.

“It was quite a surprise,” he said of the award for which dozens of students nominated him.

A graduate of Duke law school and a senior lecturing fellow since 2005, Bowling teaches courses in labor law, employment law, and well-being and the practice of law. “Students call it the happy lawyer course,” he said.

Bowling captures the attention of students by including in his lectures anecdotes from his career experiences as well as knowledge gained when he earned a master’s degree in applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I use a mix of formal lecture, story-telling, Socratic dialogue, and practical exercises. I try to keep things moving,” said Bowling, who has served as a Millsaps trustee. “And have fun.”

Bowling has had quite a career from which law students at Duke can learn.

After graduating law school he joined a large firm in Atlanta and became a partner after five years. He then became chief labor and employment counsel at Coca-Cola Enterprises in 1986 and went on to hold numerous positions of increasing responsibility during his 20-year career there, including running a $2-billion operating unit. From 2001-2006, he was senior vice president in charge of human resources for 80,000 employees in North America and Western Europe, including 35,000 working under more than 200 labor contracts. During that time period, he served on the corporation's governing executive committee.

In 2006, Bowling founded Positive Workplace Solutions, which works with lawyers and other professionals to maximize job performance, satisfaction, and working relationships. It has facilitated psychological strengths training with diverse groups including U.S. Army combat officers and members of corporate legal departments.

In 2009, he became a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, a position he still holds in addition to his Duke appointment. There, he assists noted psychologist Martin Seligman in teaching the introductory course in positive psychology and also teaches the course Humanities and Human Flourishing. He also conducts empirical psychological research on the relationship between well-being and performance.

Bowling’s life in academia offers a new twist: it allows him to connect all of the dots of his career, to serve as a mentor to students, and to make use of what he learned as a student at Millsaps. “I try to bring Millsaps into the classroom,” he said, recalling Frances Coker, Dan Hise, Dr. Robert McElvaine, Dr. Charles Sallis, and Dr. Austin Wilson as among his favorite professors.

He is a featured blogger for Talent Management (www.talentmgt.com), and a frequent guest columnist in various national publications.
Bowling’s advice for students, which could be applied to almost anyone?

Have goals but be flexible, approach new opportunities with realistic optimism, build relationships, use your strengths, and be open to new challenges. “As your mother might have said, things do tend to work out in the long run if you have the right attitude,” he said.