Dominic Massa /EyewitnessNews|Twitter:@DMassaWWL

NEWORLEANS- Tulane University thinks it has the perfect retirement gift for outgoing president Scott Cowen 750,000 hours of community service, donated by students, faculty, staff and alumni, to honor Cowen and his legacy of public service in New Orleans.

Cowen is stepping down at the end of the school year next spring, ending his 16-year tenure as Tulane University president.

On Tuesday, the university announced the start of the Cowen Service Challenge, which over the next nine months will record the number of hours of community service performed by the Tulane community, in Cowen's honor.

'Tulane students already log 430,000 hours of community service each year,' said Vincent Ilustre, executive director of the Tulane Center for Public Service, in a statement. 'With the help of faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Tulane we want to measurably increase that.This will be the ultimate parting gift to someone who has inspired so many to commit to public service.'

Tulane has tracked students' community service hours since Hurricane Katrina, becoming the first and only major research university in the country to make public service a curriculum requirement for graduates.

Service hours logged as part of the Cowen retirement effort can include volunteering at any nonprofit, community, school, or faith-based organization, the school said. Service hours will be logged through April 2014.

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