TIAA-CREF Honors Scott Cowen With 2014 Theodore M Hesburgh Award For Leadership Excellence

Cowen recognized for his contributions to the rebuilding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina
Award bestowed at American Council on Education’s Annual Meeting
New York, March 10, 2014 – The TIAA-CREF Institute today announced Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University, as the winner of the 2014 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. The American Council on Education (ACE) administers the award on the Institute’s behalf and an independent panel of judges selects the winner. TIAA-CREF will bestow this honor today at the ACE Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif.
Dr. Cowen provided unwavering leadership of Tulane’s campus, faculty and students and its surrounding community following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans. With more than $650 million in damages and losses to the campus alone, Dr. Cowen was tasked with ensuring the university experience would continue even though the campus itself was closed.
“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.”
In addition to helping rebuild Tulane’s facilities, Dr. Cowen turned his attention to local public schools affected by Hurricane Katrina. Under his leadership, Tulane supplied $1.6 million to reopen the nearby Lusher Elementary School, transforming it into a K-12 charter school where juniors and seniors could take free Tulane college courses. This partnership has now 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,” said Dr. Cowen. “To be given an award that bears his name is the greatest recognition any university leader could hope to receive.” Dr. Cowen added that he plans to donate the award prize money to a charitable cause.
Immediately after the hurricane, Dr. Cowen issued a challenge to Tulane students: “If it’s not in your DNA to rebuild Tulane and New Orleans, don’t come back.” While many thought Tulane would be lucky just to have students return, Dr. Cowen took the opportunity to raise the university’s standards post-Katrina, by enlisting students in the rebuilding effort. He employed architecture students to design and build hurricane-safe homes to replace those destroyed by Katrina; business students to prepare new business plans and marketing campaigns for stores and restaurants returning to a forever altered city; English majors to tutor and mentor at local schools and medical residents to work at clinics providing care for the uninsured.
“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.”
As a result of Dr. Cowen’s leadership, Tulane’s classes resumed in spring 2006 with 93 percent of all students returning after Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, Tulane’s incoming freshman class of 1,400 students was almost 60 percent larger than in 2006, marking the largest one-year increase in first-year students in the history of the university.Dr. Cowen also took his commitment to New Orleans to a next level, establishing the Reconnecting Opportunity Youth initiative to identify challenges facing disconnected youth, and opportunities available to help them. This resulted in the Earn and Learn Program, where participants are engaged in academic and vocational training. The program features paid employment at Tulane and on-the-job training in the classroom, followed by six months of career counseling and mentoring as participants transition into full-time employment or complete their college degrees.

About ACE

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Hesburgh Award Background

Established in 1993, the Hesburgh Award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good and is presented to a current college or university president or chancellor 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. The winner is selected by an independent panel of judges.
For more information about the TIAA-CREF Institute, which manages the Hesburgh Award program, visit .

About the TIAA-CREF Institute

The TIAA-CREF Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The Institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $564 billion in assets under management (as of 12.31.13) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

News Release Addendum Hesburgh Award Winner Bio

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. He currently serves on TIAA-CREF’s Board of Overseers.
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 five books and more than 100 academic and professional articles, essays and reviews.
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.

TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award Background

The TIAA-CREF Hesburgh award, which includes a $20,000 prize, recognizes a current college or university president/chancellor who:
  • Is a visionary, demonstrating innovative thinking about strategic challenges and opportunities, sustaining the institution’s core values and mission, and adopting strategies to ensure future institutional vitality.
  • Has had or is having, through his/her personal involvement, a positive impact on higher education and/or on society in general through his/her institutional leadership role.
  • Demonstrates collaborative partnerships within the campus or externally that enhance institutional ability to achieve excellence both within the institution and for the greater good.
  • Positions the institution to thrive in an uncertain future, anticipating trends and developing strategies to manage change.

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