TIAA-CREF honors Scott Cowen with 2014 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence

March 10, 2014

Mike Strecker
Phone: 504-865-5210


Tulane University President Scott Cowen. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Tulane University President Scott Cowen received the 2014 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education today in San Diego. The council administers the award on the institute’s behalf and an independent panel of judges selects the winner.   

The Hesburgh Award, one of the most prestigious in academia, is presented to the university leader who embodies the spirit of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, and his contributions to higher education and society. Cowen will donate the award’s $20,000 prize to charity.

The award lauded Cowen’s leadership after Hurricane Katrina.  

“The TIAA-CREF Institute is delighted to recognize Dr. Cowen’s commitment to not only the city of New Orleans and the students of Tulane, but also to the institution of higher education,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of the TIAA-CREF Institute. “His vision and dedication during difficult times truly reflects the work of Father Hesburgh and this award is a fitting cap to Dr. Cowen’s illustrious career as he heads into retirement.”  

The award also recognized Cowen’s leadership in reforming public education in New Orleans, including helping to reopen Lusher Elementary School and transforming it into a K-12 charter school where students take free Tulane courses - a partnership that has become a national model.  

“This award is such a tremendous honor. Father Hesburgh represents the best of what every university president aspires to be – a visionary leader in all facets of higher education and a standard bearer for academic freedom and integrity,” Cowen said. “To be given an award that bears his name is the greatest recognition any university leader could hope to receive.”  

Cowen also made Tulane the first and only major research university in the country where public service is a core undergraduate requirement.  

“Scott Cowen has led Tulane University through challenging times both for higher education and the city of New Orleans, and his efforts have strengthened the academic and research missions of the institution and helped in the work of rebuilding one of our nation’s great cities,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “It is a privilege for ACE to join the TIAA-CREF Institute in honoring such significant contributions.”  

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000