Scott Cowen

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This article is about the president of Tulane University. For the New Zealand rugby union athlete, see Scott Cowan.
Scott S. Cowen
Athletic Fundraiser.jpg
Born (1946-07-27) July 27, 1946 (age 68)
Metuchen, New Jersey
Residence New Orleans, Louisiana
Citizenship USA
Nationality  United States
Fields Economics
Institutions Tulane University
Freeman School of Business
Alma mater University of Connecticut
George Washington University
Known for Tulane University president
Business professor
Prolific author

Scott S. Cowen (born 1946 July 27)[1] was 14th president of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was also Seymour S. Goodman Memorial Professor in the A.B. Freeman School of Business and professor of economics in Tulane's School of Liberal Arts. He has written more than a hundred peer-reviewed journal articles and four books.[2] Cowen is the eponym of Tulane's Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.[3] Cowen served as president of the American Association of Universities for the 1-year term beginning 2012 October 23.[4] Cowen retired in 2014.[5]


Son of Helen Cowen and Stanley Cowen, Scott Cowen finished his secondary education at Metuchen High School, where he was class president for his first three years and then president of the student council. Upon graduation in 1964 he was cited as "the student who had done the most" for Metuchen High.[6] Cowen was recruited by Lou Holtz to play football for the University of Connecticut, where later-legendary Holtz was briefly serving as an assistant coach. After receiving his bachelor of science degree in accounting from UConn in 1968, Cowen entered the United States Army Infantry Officer Candidate School and served for three years as an infantry officer, including a tour in Turkey. On discharge he enrolled in George Washington University, where he received his master of business administration (MBA) in finance and doctor of business administration (DBA) in management. After a brief stint as an instructor at Bucknell University, he began a 23-year career starting as an assistant professor and finished as dean and Albert J. Weatherhead Professor of Management in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.[7]

Cowen is a director of American Greetings,[8] Forest City Enterprises,[9] and Newell Rubbermaid;[10] he is the lead director of Jo-Ann Stores.[11] He is a former president of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[12]

President of Tulane[edit]

Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Cowen was known in higher education as a supporter of reform in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to bolster academics involving athletes and also to open Bowl Championship Series (BCS) eligibility to teams in conferences such as Conference USA (C-USA) to which Tulane belongs.[13] Cowen supported efforts "to get rid of the BCS and go to a playoff system."[14]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

Hurricane Katrina and flood waters resulting from the levee's failures hit Tulane's uptown and downtown campuses shortly after the start of the 2005 fall semester. Cowen led Tulane through a rebuilding and remodeling program,[15] during which his decision to merge and eliminate Newcomb College's quasi-selfstanding character wholly into Tulane was criticized, as was also his decision to reduce the School of Engineering and merge its remaining departments with the other science departments.[16]

Cowen was critical of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Louisiana for their handling of Katrina recovery.[17] In the plans to reconstruct New Orleans' Charity Hospital, Cowen's defended the need for Tulane Medical Center's representation on Charity's board, which resulted in the Louisiana State University System to depart from earlier plans to monopolize the board appointments and instead to seek accommodation with Tulane, Xavier University of Louisiana, and three other institutions in Orleans Parish (Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, and Delgado Community College).[18]

Cowen was appointed to the city’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission and charged with leading a committee to reform and rebuild the city’s failing public school system.[19] He supported the appointment of Ed Blakely to be "recovery czar" in New Orleans and was pleased with the outcome of the New Orleans City Council elections of 2006.[20] Cowen also is a co-founder of the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors program, a group of New Orleans civic leaders dedicated to spreading the message nationwide that post-Katrina New Orleans is an economically viable, livable city with a recovery plan in progress.[21]

Continuing challenges[edit]

In 2009 Cowen represented Louisiana's 10 private colleges and universities when he testified in the Louisiana legislature against a bill that provided for concealed weapons on campuses.[22]

In 2010, both before and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Cowen testified, successfully, in the Commerce Committee of the Louisiana senate, against a bill by state senator Robert Adley to terminate funding for the Tulane University Environmental Law Clinic. Adley's bill had the backing of the Louisiana Chemical Association and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.[23]

Cowen with the 14th Dalai Lama at Tulane Commencement 2013

Also in 2010 Cowen increased his attention to Tulane's athletics program, including a joint announcement with athletics director Rick Dickson that Tulane would build a new practice facility for basketball and volleyball and recognition that Tulane "must get better" in all its athletics programs and especially men's basketball and football. The message announced that Tulane in academic year 2011-2012 would be back up to the 16 athletics teams fielded prior to Katrina.[24]

Awards and honors[edit]

Cowen was one of four US recipients of the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Awards in 2009. Cowen dedicated the $500,000 award to Tulane's community-related activities and Tulane's Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives that coordinates the university's service-learning requirements. The Carnegie Corporation cited Cowen's leadership in New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina.[25] In 2009, TIME Magazine named Cowen one of the nation’s top "10 Best College Presidents".[26]

Recipient of the Times-Picayune Loving Cup for 2010,[27] Cowen holds honorary doctorates from Brown, Case Western, George Mason, and Yeshiva universities.[28] He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Notre Dame at its 2010 commencement ceremony for his post-Katrina efforts in rebuilding Tulane and New Orleans.[29]

A particular focus of Cowen's presidency of the Association of American Universities for the 2012-2013 term was to seek closer administrative supervision of NCAA Division 1 athletics programs.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Cowen and his wife Marjorie Feldman Cowen reside at 2 Audubon Place, the official residence of the president of Tulane University. They have four grown children.[31]

Scott and Marjorie Cowen were credited by Mary Matalin for swaying her to relocate to New Orleans. They convinced Matalin that her husband James Carville was right about the merits of moving their family to New Orleans. After having breakfast with the Cowens, Matalin went shopping for a house.[32]

Scott Cowen is a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.


  1. ^ date & year of birth according to LCNAF CIP data
  2. ^ Cowen's profile on Internet2 Speakers Bureau. His books include Richard E. Boyatzis, Scott S. Cowen, David A. Kolb, et al., Innovation in Professional Education: Steps on a Journey from Teaching to Learning (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994), ISBN 0-7879-0032-X, ISBN = 978-0-7879-0032-8.
  3. ^ Cowen Institute web site.
  4. ^ Speicher, Ann (2012-10-23). "Tulane University President Scott S. Cowen to chair Association of American Universities [news release]". Association of American Universities. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  5. ^ Vanacore, Andrew; Maggi, Laura (2013-06-01). "Cowen to retire as Tulane's president". Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana). p. 5A. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  6. ^ John Pope, "Tireless recovery efforts garner T-P Loving Cup" in Times-Picayune, 2010 April 4, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A8 (accessed 2010 April 4).
  7. ^ Suzanne Johnson, Just call me Scott, Tulanian, Summer 1998. See also Cowen bio on Tulane's web site.
  8. ^ American Greetings Annual Report 2008, p. 93 et passim.
  9. ^ Cowen bio on Forest City's web site.
  10. ^ Newell Rubbermaid director profile.
  11. ^ Cowen bio on the Jo-Ann Stores web site. For a consolidated display of his holdings and director benefits see the Cowen page on
  12. ^ Richard E. Boyatzis, Scott S. Cowen, David A. Kolb, et al., Innovation in Professional Education: Steps on a Journey from Teaching to Learning (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994), ISBN 0-7879-0032-X, ISBN = 978-0-7879-0032-8.
  13. ^ Cowen bio at Tulane.
  14. ^ Cowen quoted by Denny O'Brien, "Bucking the BCS: Tulane CEO demands reform" on
  15. ^ Jeffrey Selingo, Tulane's President, Working in Houston With a Skeletal Staff, Says Reopening by Spring Is Essential, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2005 September 7; Jennifer Reingold, The Storm After the Storm, Fast Company Magazine, 2009 December 19 (accessed 2009 April 30).
  16. ^ Scott Cowen strikes again!
  17. ^ Stormy Reflections From Scott Cowen, National Public Radio, 2008 September 01.
  18. ^ Jan Moller, "LSU willing to share hospital power: Board roles offered to peer universities" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 13, Saint Tammany Edition, p. A1.
  19. ^ Tulane Official Biography
  20. ^ Cowen interviewed on New Orleans, 2007 January 8.
  21. ^ Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors
  22. ^ Ed Anderson, "Revolvers could join the 3Rs on campus" in Times-Picayune, 2009 May 13, p. A2.
  23. ^ Jeremy Alford, Ready for the courtroom, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, 2010 June 1–14, pp. 25-26. Cowen's nemesis in testimony before the committee was Louisiana Chemical Association president Dan Borné, who said that the mission of the law clinic "seems to be to attack business and business advancement and industrial advancement."
  24. ^ Scott Cowen & Rick Dickson, A message from Tulane University president Scott Cowen and Director of Athletics Rick Dickson, 2010 June 9 (accessed 2010 June 9). Tulane eliminated eight of its 16 teams in 2005 and had returned to 14 teams when Cowen & Dickson sent the message.
  25. ^ John Pope, "Tulane president wins Carnegie award" in Times-Picayune, 2009 September 22, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. B1-B2. The 2009 three other winners of the Carnegie award were Leon Botstein, president of Bard College; Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania; and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.
  26. ^ The 10 Best College Presidents, Time Magazine, David Von Drehle / Columbus Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009
  27. ^ Bruce Nolan, T-P Loving Cup awarded to Tulane's president: Civic stalwart voices high hopes for N.O. in Times-Picayune, 2010 April 29, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A11 (accessed 2010 April 29).
  28. ^ John Pope, "Tireless recovery efforts garner T-P Loving Cup" in Times-Picayune, 2010 April 4, Metro Edition, pp. A1, A8 (accessed 2010 April 4).
  29. ^ Notre Dame to award nine honorary degrees at commencement, ND Newswire, 30 March 2010 (accessed 2010 April 2).
  30. ^ Nunez, Tammy (2012-10-25). "Cowen continues to push for reform". Times-Picayune (Saint Tammany Edition). p. D11. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  31. ^ Cowen bio on Tulane's web site. See also If walls could talk, Tulanian, 2007 September 12 (based on transcripts of oral histories from Marjorie Cowen’s No. 2 Audubon DVD project).
  32. ^ Daniel Monteverde, Political odd couple takes stage at Tulane graduation, Times-Picayune, 2008 May 18 (accessed 2009 May 1). See also Stephanie Bruno with photographs by Ted Jackson, The president's residence, Times-Picayune, 2007 November 04 (accessed 2009 May 02).

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Eamon Kelly
President of Tulane University
1998 – 2014
Succeeded by
Michael Fitts