Pictured, clockwise from left: Stephanie Bowling Zeigler; her husband, Eric Zeigler; their son, Rett Zeigler; and her mother, Ann Bowling. Photo by Mary B. Photography & Design
Stephanie Zeigler was born into an appreciation of Berea College. The youngest of James and Ann Bowling’s four children, she grew up in Connecticut amidst crafts created in Berea—an homage to her parents’ Kentucky roots.
“When I was born, my father was beginning his 30 years of service on the Board of Trustees; he had quite a philanthropic nature,” she recalled. “From a very early age, I was playing with the woodcraft toys and seeing weavings around the house and other crafts and ceramics made by Berea students.”
Berea College woodcraft games like Fox and Geese, Nine Men’s Norris and Chinese Checkers—“the one with the solid-colored marbles was a personal favorite,” she remembers—connected Zeigler to the College. Growing up, she recalls her father talking about Berea and taking trips to Kentucky for board meetings and the two of them staying at Boone Tavern on a visit to Berea. With Berea as a part of her upbringing and culture at home, she naturally grew up and into a seat on the Board of Trustees
When I was young, I was not aware of how incredible the school was and the profound impact of its mission,” Zeigler admits. “After my father passed away, my mother was elected to the board, and I would hear her talk about how remarkable it was and the difference Berea was making through the extraordinary mission we all know well.”
When her mother retired from the board, then-President Larry Shinn invited Zeigler to join.
“It has been one of the greatest honors in my life,” she said.
Zeigler, an architect, also takes great pride in the Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health building. As chairperson of the board’s buildings and grounds committee during its construction, the committee—which includes fellow architect Bill Richardson—worked with the school to create a building that respected the campus’ historical architecture while offering design and functionality for the 21st century. Opened in 2018, the building exterior recalls the past with its contextual brickwork and cupola. Th e interior core reads “modern” with glass walls and classrooms that facilitate collaboration among the science disciplines and the top-rated nursing program housed there.
“My gift to that building was the biggest gift I’ve ever given, so that was significant for me,” Zeigler said. “I definitely felt a great sense of pride in being part of that time period for the school.”
That gift enabled Zeigler, her husband Eric and their children to name the Zeigler Family Simulation Room in memory of James Chandler Bowling, her father.
Berea College is etched onto Zeigler’s heart. “As an adult and being on the Board, I have come to know Berea in a much deeper way,” she said. “Every time I go to a meeting, it enriches my love and respect for the College.”
It’s a love she may have passed to her three children when she wrapped them in baby blankets woven in Student Crafts.