NEW ORLEANS — Tulane President Scott Cowen announced Friday he would step down from his position next year, ending a more than 15-year reign leading the university.
In a letter posted on Tulane’s website, Cowen said he originally planned on only a 10-year term with the school beginning in 1998. But Hurricane Katrina altered those plans and Cowen remained president beyond those 10 years.
“Our focus and determination to persevere created a powerful bond amongst all of us that ultimately led to Tulane’s extraordinary recovery,” Cowen wrote. “Today, because of our collective efforts, Tulane is vibrant, distinctive and well positioned to address the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
His retirement is set for July 1, 2014.
Cowen was named by TIME magazine in 2009 as one of the top 10 best college presidents. Since Cowen took over in 1998, the school says the amount of applications Tulane receives has quintupled while it also seen private donations more than double.
The school is ranked as the No. 51 national university by U.S. News and No. 12 in the up-and-coming school category.
Athletics, meanwhile, have remained a lightning rod of criticism under his tenure. In 2000, Cowen hired Rick Dickson, who hasn’t improved the department in terms of postseason appearances. Tulane hasn’t reached a bowl game in football since 2002 or the NCAA basketball tournament since 1995.
Prior to Katrina, Cowen led a review of the department to determine whether the school should eliminate football or move to Division III.
Still, the school is building a new football stadium, has renovated its basketball arena, built a basketball practice facility and rebuilt its baseball stadium entirely.
Before being named the school’s 14th president, Cowen spent 23 years at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for 23 years, serving as a professor and eventually dean.