Biography of Scott S. Cowen

President Scott S. Cowen

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. That same year he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions, which advised the President on ways to reconnect and empower young people who are neither employed nor in school. In  2012 President Cowen was named chair of the Association of American Universities.

President Cowen is the recipient of several national awards and honorary degrees from institutions such as Brown University, Yeshiva University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Notre Dame and Case Western Reserve University. He is also the recipient of The 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. He has been honored by New Orleans CityBusiness as one of the 30 “Driving Forces” in New Orleans in the last 30 years, and by Gambit as New Orleanian of the year in 2011.

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 numerous occasions for its civic engagement programs, while also being consistently ranked in the top tier of national research universities.

In June 2008, President Cowen announced the successful completion of “Promise and Distinction: The Campaign for Tulane,” which exceeded its $700 million goal, making it the largest university fundraising effort in the history of Louisiana.

President Cowen also led Tulane through the most trying period of its history when, 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 undergraduate 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 the former chair of the Southeast Regional Airport Authorityand a former commissioner of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

President Cowen was 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 sought support for the recovery of New Orleans from businesses and philanthropic organizations around the country.

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 University of Notre Dame, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and TIAA-CREF.  President Cowen has 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 Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for 23 years.  He is the author of four books and more than 100 academic and professional articles, essays and reviews. Dr. 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 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 four grandchildren.

April 2013

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