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.
President Cowen came to Tulane in 1998 from Case Western Reserve University where he was a member of the faculty for 23 years and Dean and Albert J. Weatherhead III Professor of Management at its Weatherhead School of Management for 14 years. He is the author of four books and over 100 academic and professional articles, essays and reviews and is the recipient of several national awards and honors.
Since his arrival in 1998, Tulane University has more than doubled its undergraduate applications, experienced all-time highs in student enrollment and quality, 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 these efforts, Newsweek magazine listed Tulane University as one of the “hottest” schools in the U.S.
In June 2003 President Cowen invited his fellow university leaders to join together in a national effort to reform intercollegiate athletics and ensure that their sports programs are consistent with the values, missions and aspirations of their institutions. This effort included working to alter the Bowl Championship Series arrangement to minimize, if not eliminate, its adverse impact on Division I-A intercollegiate athletics, requesting that the NCAA adopt policies and procedures that support higher academic standards and asking the NCAA to reconsider the appropriateness and cost implications of Division I-A membership criteria.
President Cowen has held several leadership positions in national academic and professional associations. He is a past board member of the American Council on Education, a past member of its Nominating Committee and Executive Committee and was Chair of the Planning Committee for its 2003 annual meeting. He is also a former board member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, a former member of the NCAA board and its executive committee and past president of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. He is also a former chair of the Conference USA Board of Directors.
Besides his achievements in the academic world, President Cowen also has extensive experience in business as a corporate director and consultant. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Newell Rubbermaid Inc., American Greetings Corporation, Jo-Ann Stores Inc. and Forest City Enterprises Inc. He has consulted with dozens of companies, from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he sits on several community boards, including the New Orleans Business Council, Committee For A Better New Orleans, Greater New Orleans Inc., and the Mayor’s National Film Advisory Board.
On March 17, 2005, President Cowen announced the public launch of “Promise and Distinction: The Campaign for Tulane.” With a goal of raising $700 million by 2008, the campaign is the largest university fundraising effort in the history of Louisiana.
In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, flooded half of Tulane’s uptown campus and all of its downtown Health Sciences Center and dispersed its faculty and staff around the country for an entire semester. Under President Cowen’s leadership the campus was repaired and a remarkable 87 percent of its students returned for classes in January of 2006. On December 8, 2005 the Board of Tulane approved President Cowen’s 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.
In response to Katrina, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin appointed President Cowen to the city’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission and charged him 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 has 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 also serves 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.