Bowman, a native of Petersburg, W.Va., enrolled at WVU in 1956 and served as president of the freshman class. He was elected student body president in 1959-1960. Bowman was a member of the social fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, Helvetia, Sphinx and Mountain. He also was a member of the Army ROTC.
After graduation, Bowman attended the WVU College of Law where he served as associate editor of the West Virginia Law Review. As one of three outstanding graduates, Bowman received the Patrick Duffy Koontz Award upon graduation in 1963.
Bowman served four years with the Judge Advocate Generals Corps in the U.S. Army after graduation. After his service, he practiced law briefly in Charleston and then became the Deputy Commissioner of Workers Compensation in West Virginia, and in 1974, Bowman was named the first Administrative Director of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
In 1979 Bowman joined the WVU College of Law