Tulane President Scott Cowen is still surprised and humbled by this weekend's announcement that he is the winner of the Times-Picayune's Loving Cup. The person who works with him more closely than anyone is only surprised.
"I told him there was no way he would win because he's not from here," said Becky Desporte, executive secretary to the president. The Loving Cup is perhaps the greatest honor any New Orleanian can receive for public service to the Crescent City.
"I guess that makes me a native, once removed," Cowen laughed. "But I am pleased to help in any way I can to rebuild our city. This honor is only possible because of the extraordinary team students, faculty and staff who support my efforts. I accept this for all of us at Tulane and in the community who are devoting a portion of their lives to community engagement."
The Times-Picayune gave the award to Cowen "for his civic involvement."
That involvement, to which Desporte, keeper of the presidential calendar, can attest, includes his work with the public education committee of the mayor's Bring New Orleans Back Commission, which led to the creation of the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, and for his leadership in the Fleur de Lis Ambassadors program, the Southeast Regional Airport Authority and more.
"I just think this is the most well-deserved honor," said Betsy Nalty, president of the Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation Board and an active community volunteer. "Everywhere Scott Cowen goes he puts New Orleans first. I told him, 'Happiness was opening the Times-Picayune and seeing this.' I am thrilled."
Cowen's greatest asset may be his ability to inspire others.
"He's always pointing out to our student athletes how much difference it makes when others see them taking part in the recovery," athletics director Rick Dickson said. "He knows the importance of leading by example."