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Loving the Crescent City

April 29, 2010 1:15 AM
Carol J. Schlueter

Before an all-star group of New Orleans civic leaders, Tulane President Scott Cowen stepped to the podium at Lusher Charter School on Wednesday (April 29) to receive the prestigious Times-Picayune Loving Cup. He turned his acceptance speech into a tribute to the adopted city that he helped resurrect after catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.

Loving Cup

With the Times-Picayune Loving Cup prominently displayed, Tulane President Scott Cowen (from left) gives an address after accepting the honor, while Ashton Phelps, Times-Picayune publisher, and Jim Amoss, editor-in-chief, look on. (Photos by Paula Burch-Celentano)

"New Orleans and you have given much more to me than I've given to you," he said to an audience that included luminaries such as Dave Dixon, 1989 Loving Cup honoree and father of the Louisiana Superdome; Norman Francis, Xavier University president who won the award in 1991; and attorney R. King Milling, 2008 winner, and his wife, Ann, honored in 1995.

Also in the audience were members of the Board of Tulane, prominent university alumni and senior Tulane administrators and faculty members, who gave Cowen a lengthy standing ovation.

"I've never been more optimistic about the future of our city than I am today," said Cowen, who added that New Orleans can become "the model city in America in the 21st century."

Presenting the award was Times-Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps, who called Cowen "simply a dynamo." He added, "When Scott is on board, things happen. We're awfully glad Scott Cowen was here to help us" after Katrina.

Loving Cup

Scott Cowen said no award he's received means more than the Loving Cup "because it came from my adopted community."

Holding the ceremony at Lusher was evidence of Cowen's post-storm leadership — he and Tulane helped reopen Lusher the first semester after the storm. Public education has become a high item on Cowen's agenda through the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.

The Tulane president has been honored by TIME magazine as one of the nation's top 10 university presidents. He is one of only four university leaders to receive the 2009 Carnegie Corp. Academic Leadership Award. Recently he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the world's most prestigious honorary societies.

The Loving Cup, awarded annually since 1901, recognizes citizens who have worked unselfishly for the community without expectation of public acclaim or material reward.