Tulane President honored at final commencement ahead of retirement




Posted on May 18, 2014 at 4:44 AM

Updated Sunday, May 18 at 4:55 AM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS - Saturday's graduation also marked a special and bittersweet time for Tulane President Scott Cowen. 

This will be his final commencement, as he plans to retire this summer. Cowen led the school for many years, through its most challenging times.

Tulane University did not just celebrate its 2014 graduates, it celebrated the 16 years Scott Cowen severed as Tulane's president.

"He has so much to be proud of and he will certainly go down as one of the greatest presidents of this university and one of the greatest college presidents around the country as well," said Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.

Saturday Brees graciously accepted the president's medal from Cowen for his work in the community.

Cowen even had some fun with it, catching a pass from the Saints quarterback to close out the ceremony, but Cowen says his final commencement was bittersweet.

"I consider myself so fortunate some 17 years ago to find my way down here and to be apart of this great transformation in New Orleans," said Cowen.

During the commencement, students paid tribute to his impressive career, especially how he lead the university through Katrina.

"It's one thing to be able to accomplish all those things, it's another thing to be so well liked and loved by the students," said Brees. 

At times Cowen was overcome by emotion and he says those tears of joy were for the city he's called home all these years.

"I love new Orleans with such intensity, it's hard to describe and my years here are not what I originally thought it would be, but so much better than I ever imagined," said Cowen.

As for what's next for Cowen, he says it will definitely involve New Orleans.

"I am going to take a little time off, the proverbial go to Disneyland and then I will come back and teach at Tulane University, continue my work in k-12 education and disconnected youth," said Cowen.