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Four Brothers. Four Ph.D’s. Four Bulldog Traditions.

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Four Brothers. Four Ph.D’s. Four Bulldog Traditions.

Throughout the history of the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), a number of siblings have graduated from this campus. The four Mowbray brothers caught our eye, and we’re featuring them this month in our Alumni Sibling Story Profile. Today, they live in four separate states. They each earned doctorate degrees. And all of them attended UMD sometime between the years of 1956–1977.

“I think it was unusual during that time for all the siblings in a family to attend college. Neither of my parents graduated from college,” said 1962 alumnus Tom Mowbray. “All of us—my brothers, myself, and the students in our neighborhood—we were all first generation.”

Out of the four siblings, three graduated from UMD: Tom Mowbray with a bachelor of science in botany with minors in chemistry and geography (1962); Rod Mowbray with a bachelor of arts in zoology (1967); and Tim Mowbray with a bachelor’s in sociology (1974). Don Mowbray studied for two years in the pre-engineering program from 1956–1958. He then transferred to the Twin Cities campus where he graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1960.

“Our father was pretty stern about our lives being better. He was a sheet metal worker and tradesman. He couldn’t financially support us through college, but he definitely supported the idea of education. We were also welcome at home. All of us lived there when we attended UMD,” said Tom.

Throughout their college careers, and much of their high school years, the Mowbray brothers worked to pay for their tuition and to help their family. Tom was a plumber’s helper and during the school year, he cleaned the offices of AG O’Brien on Ninth Street in Duluth. Don worked for two summers with faculty member, Dr. Jackson, who was a professor of engineering at the time. Rod and Tim held summer jobs as well and each of the brothers paid for their tuition bills in full before the end of the spring semester.

“It was a different world then,” said Tom. “What we earned and saved was more than enough to pay for our educations.”

Even with full work schedules and classes, the brothers found plenty to do outdoors with skiing at Chester Bowl and golf at the Northland Country Club. “Monday was Caddy Day,” said Tom with a smile. “We would carry bags as caddies the other days of the week and then, on Monday, we could play. It was great.”

As each brother graduated, all of them continued with higher educational goals that eventually led to each of them receiving their doctorate degrees. Tom Mowbray will never forget the foundation that UMD put into place for his future, as well as for his brothers. “UMD made an education available to us, and for me personally, was the safety net that kept me focused on getting a college degree. The faculty in the biosciences department thought that I had potential, and they were willing to encourage me to achieve that potential. I probably wouldn’t have continued my studies and gone on to graduate without that support. And I certainly wouldn’t have gone on to graduate school.”

The world is a lucky place with the Mowbray brothers specializing in engineering mechanics, plant ecology, management in organizational leadership, and zoology. The spectrum of knowledge in the Mowbray family is impressive, and it illustrates that this campus has a long and rich history in providing an excellent education to generations both past and present.

(In the top photo, the order of the Mowbray brothers from L to R: Don Mowbray, Tom Mowbray, Rod Mowbray, and Tim Mowbray.)

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