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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 06/13/2007 - During his 26 years in higher education, H. Lawrence Cowan has learned a lot about the value of building strong relationships with university constituents and fostering a "culture of philanthropy." He will soon use his skills in these areas to benefit the University of Central Missouri as vice president for university advancement.
H. Lawrence Cowan
Cowan Takes Post in August
University President Aaron Podolefsky announced Cowan's appointment today. He officially joins the institution Aug. 1, filling a post that is currently held by Paul Page, who has served the institution for the past five years. Page announced in December 2006 his plan to retire from UCM.
"We're excited that Larry Cowan is joining the university," Podolefsky said. "He is an experienced leader and fundraiser. I am confident that his management style will serve the institution well as we strive to build the strongest advancement division possible."
Experience Includes Public and Private Universities
Cowan has spent the past four years serving as the associate vice president for development and alumni affairs at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. In this capacity, he provides leadership for the major gift operation for the private coeducational school of about 2,500 students. He resides in Boca Raton with his wife, Margie, and two daughters, Casey, 20, and Alexis, 17.
"When we first learned about the opportunity at UCM, the profile of the institution just really fit with some of our experiences and the things we believe most in higher education. We were certainly impressed with the vision and the mission that President Podolefsky has laid out for the future," Cowan said. "Who would not want to be part of that exciting turning point in the university's history?
History of Advancement Success
As Lynn University's chief advancement officer, he has managed professional support staff responsible for all fundraising, special events, community relations and alumni relations activities. His many achievements include the creation of a new team in Development and Alumni Affairs with staff additions to Alumni and Parent Relations, Prospect Research, Planned Gifts, Major Gifts, and administrative staff. Since the fall 2006 semester, Cowan's focus has been on securing major gifts, including $1.5 million for the College of Business to create the university's first-ever Endowed Professorship. The institution also received $620,000 – the largest gift from the parent of a current Lynn student – to create the Diagnostic Center at the Institute for Achievement and Learning.
Cowan compared UCM in size, mission, and academic scope to another institution that he has served, Plattsburgh State University in Plattsburgh, NY. As director of corporate and athletic development from 2000-2003, he fostered development initiatives that resulted in a 220 percent increase over a two-year period for the College Foundation's Annual Business Campaign and four-fold increase during his tenure for athletic development efforts. He also secured a leadership gift for a new baseball stadium, the largest individual gift to Plattsburgh by a living alumnus.
Goals Include Fostering a Philanthropic Culture
Fundraising successes at Lynn and Plattsburgh are the result of growing philanthropic cultures, which have included initiatives such as "Development 101" workshops for college deans and faculty geared specifically to fundraising. Cowan hopes to take what he learned from these experiences to create a strong philanthropic culture at UCM, and to build excellent relationships among university constituencies - his first priority upon his arrival at UCM.
"I know it sounds cliche, but the most important thing for us has always been relationships. If you can build relationships and they are sincere, then the support is just a byproduct of doing things the right way, and doing them in a first-class manner," he remarked.
Management Style has Roots in Athletics
Cowan's vast experience in higher education also includes the athletic arena. After earning his bachelor's degree in recreation administration from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY in 1981, he became the assistant men's basketball coach at Utica College of Syracuse University in Utica, NY, where he transformed the former NCAA III program into a Division I competitor. In 1987, the same year he completed his master's degree in physical education from Syracuse, he was named head men's basketball coach at Plattsburgh, a program he also helped make more competitive. He became director of athletics in 1997, and in 1999 became assistant vice president for student affairs and enrollment management before moving into the development arena.
"I think my management style is certainly grounded in my intercollegiate athletic experience," he said.
Self-described "Team Builder"
Cowan considers himself a team builder. "I focus on hiring the best talent, providing them with the resources necessary to be successful," he said. "While giving them advice and guidance they need, we determine goals and objectives and they perform their responsibilities to a very high degree."
Cowan and his wife also have a strong record of community service, and look forward to continuing to get involved in activities that benefit local residents upon their arrival in Warrensburg.
The University Advancement area at UCM includes the offices of Alumni Relations and Development, Broadcasting Services, University Relations, Promotions and Special Events, and Presidential and University Events. The vice president also serves as executive director of the UCM Foundation.