THE ICON: Scott Cowen
THE LEGACY: In August 2005, shortly after Scott Cowen started his eighth year as Tulane University’s president, his defining moment arrived. That was when Hurricane Katrina hit, inflicting about $650 million in damage on the school. He vowed to rebuild, but his strategy was neither easy nor universally beloved, leaving behind a leaner Tulane and shuttering Newcomb College, Tulane’s 120-year-old undergraduate college for women. At the same time, Cowen became a vocal and vital figure in New Orleans’ recovery, with a focus on improving the public education system and helping ensure the city’s needs weren’t forgotten nationally. Today, Tulane continues as a beacon of higher education in a rebuilt New Orleans — and as a testament to Cowen’s leadership.
THE ARTIST: Michael McManus, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “What Scott did was something extraordinary. He took leadership not only for the resurrection of Tulane but also the resurrection of New Orleans.” — Arthur Levine, a former president of Columbia University Teachers College, who studies university presidents