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News flash: Cowen to Purdue?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:45 am    Post subject: News flash: Cowen to Purdue? Reply with quote

So I'm in graduate school here at Purdue and I saw a piece last night on the local news about Purdue considering Dr. Scott Cowen of Tulane University, among others, for it's next president. Being a recent alum of Tulane I have mixed feelings. Honestly, I will not hide my ill-feelings towards Cowen. I just don't think he gets Tulane and New Orleans. My commencement speaker, Michael Lewis (native New Orleanian), said it best, " [New Orleans] has been a little slower to fragment than most of America. It is always trying to connect the present to the past. To keep all of the pieces together".

President Cowen just doesn't get that. Tulane is a job to him, not a family or culture as most of us would like to think of it as (and he laghed out loud at this notion at a town hall meeting with engineering students in early 2006) . He has done portions of his job well such as fundraising and increasing interest among perspective students, but he just doesn't get how much every facet and every quirk of this university means to the common Tulanian. Heck, we argue against each other on this forum not because we are upset at the university or program, but because we LOVE it. And we love everything about it. That's why it hurts so much when something that we love so much (Newcomb College, Tulane College, Engineering School, Athletics) is changed forever without regard to us... the Tulane faithful.

Its time we have one of us in the office. Someone who 'gets it'... all of it. Someone who can recite the hullabaloo without batting an eye. Someone who owns one of everything that adorns the Tulane logo. Someone who has fallen in love with New Orleans. Someone who eats red beans and rice on Mondays. We need someone who is not inclined to make decisions behind closed doors. We need someone who lets the alumni, students, and supporters have some say in the goings on of the university. If we found this person, we may very well save the tradition and culture that is the fabric of this institution.

It is with this that I welcome Scott to Purdue... if Purdue should so choose. I do not truly desire him here or support him getting another presidential position, but I believe he will fit in a little bit better here. Purdue culture is the average mid-west american university. Traditions here are not quite as deep and are definitely not as quirky as they are at Tulane. I think Cowen will have better luck in this setting as he did at Case Western, where a modification to the university here or there will not cause much anguish (through his 'new model American university' plan). However, he has big shoes to fill. Jischke, Purdue's retiring president, is one heck of a leader. He realizes the importance of student organizations (including greek life), alumni input into the university, and the major impact athletics has in the moral of the university. He will be sorely missed by Purdue as a whole, academic and athletic. I wish Tulane had a man like him... if only he ate red beans and rice on Mondays!


Hmmm...isn't Purdue a major engineering school?

Seriously I have no idea whether or not Cowen really does grasp and have a taste for New Orleans' quirks, etc., although I have heard that he does not take New Orleans very seriously and actually has much personal disdain.

My impression of Cowen has been that he likes to be seen doing things, for instance he may well eat red beans, however, what's actually in his heart and what important things he wants to do he keeps hidden until he can spring something on the rest of us and then identify it as a "tough, hard decision."

Also, I am not sure I'd describe him as having been quite that talented or effective as far as fundraising. For one thing, he seems to want to take credit for the efforts of others and we know for certain that he has continually placed great pressure on subordinates to work on fundraising. Moreover, he's also alienated a lot of different people.
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