Scott S. Cowen is Tulane University’s 14th President. He also holds joint appointments as the Seymour S Goodman Memorial Professor of Business in Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and Professor of Economics in the School of Liberal Arts.
TIME Magazine has named President Cowen one of the nation’s top 10 Best College Presidents and he was one of only four university leaders nationwide to receive the 2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award. In 2010 President Cowen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies. Most recently President Barack Obama appointed him to the White House Council for Community Solutions, which will advise the President on the best ways to mobilize citizens, nonprofits, businesses and government to address community needs. In addition, President Cowen is the recipient of several national awards and honorary degrees from institutions such as Brown University, Yeshiva University, University of Connecticut, University of Notre Dame and Case Western Reserve University.
He is also the recipient of the 2009 Times-Picayune’s Loving Cup, which each year honors a New Orleanian who has worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of recognition or material reward. President Cowen was also honored in 2010 by New Orleans CityBusiness as one of the 30 “Driving Forces” in New Orleans in the last 30 years.
Since President Cowen’s arrival in 1998, Tulane University has more than quintupled its undergraduate applications while experiencing all-time highs in student quality. In addition, Tulane has more than doubled the level of total private giving to the university and received a record level of research awards. The university has implemented a number of innovative academic and research program initiatives and significantly increased its community outreach. In recognition of Tulane’s accomplishments, it was noted as one of the “Hottest Schools in America” by Newsweek magazine in 2002 and 2008, and has been nationally recognized on multiple occasions for its civic engagement programs, while also being consistently ranked in the top tier of national research universities.
On March 17, 2005, President Cowen announced the public launch of “Promise and Distinction: The Campaign for Tulane.” When the campaign was completed in June 2008, it had exceeded its $700 million goal, making it the largest university fundraising effort in the history of Louisiana.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, flooding 70 percent of Tulane’s uptown campus and all the buildings of its downtown health sciences campus. Tulane’s faculty, staff and students were dispersed around the country for an entire semester. Under President Cowen’s leadership the campus was repaired and on December 8, 2005, the Board of Tulane approved his Renewal Plan, a sweeping effort that strengthens and focuses the university’s academic mission while strategically addressing its current and future operations in the post-Katrina era. A remarkable 87 percent of Tulane students returned for classes in January of 2006.
In response to Katrina, President 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. President Cowen has devoted his days and nights to these monumental tasks and has already had impressive results. As part of this effort, Tulane chartered a K-12 school in New Orleans and created an Institute for Public Education Initiatives to support the transformation of public education in New Orleans. In addition, President Cowen has served as a commissioner of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which plays a major role in the rebuilding of Orleans Parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is currently chairman of the Southeast Regional Airport Authority, which is charged with turning Louis Armstrong International Airport into a world-class transportation center and a significant economic development powerhouse. He is also a commissioner of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.
President Cowen is also the 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. The Ambassadors also actively seek additional support from businesses and philanthropic organizations around the county for the recovery of New Orleans.
President Cowen has held leadership positions in national academic and professional associations, including the American Council on Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the NCAA, and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). He currently serves as a board member of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and TIAA-CREF. President Cowen also led an effort with his fellow university leaders to reform intercollegiate athletics and ensure that their sports programs are consistent with the values, missions and aspirations of their institutions.
Prior to coming to Tulane, President Cowen was a professor—and later dean—at Ohio's Case Western Reserve University for 23 years. He is the author of four books and more than 100 academic and professional articles, essays and reviews. Cowen’s areas of scholarship and teaching focus on strategic financial management systems, corporate governance and leadership. President Cowen has consulted with dozens of companies, from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. He is currently a board member of Newell Rubbermaid, Inc., American Greetings, Joann Stores and Forest City Enterprises.
President Cowen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut in 1968. After serving a three-year term in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer from 1968-1971, he went back to school and received his masters and doctoral degrees, respectively, from The George Washington University in the fields of finance and management. President Cowen and his wife, Marjorie, have four adult children and three grandchildren.