Farewell, Scott Cowen

photo of Stan Gerson

Starting out as an interim dean only to have a change in my reporting relationship early on was a bit disconcerting. We often hear, "How can you take a job when you don't know who the boss will be?" Even Scott Cowen, a seasoned former Dean of CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management followed by his illustrious service as president of Tulane University before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, can seem like someone unknown.

Here was my game plan: listen to Scott and read his books, including Winnebagos on Wednesdays, drawing from the rebuilding of Tulane and New Orleans after the hurricane and the tough decision to maintain Tulane's football program—demonstrating that the courage of transformative leadership is essential for colleges and universities to remain vital. (I forgave his book’s accurate description of medical centers and schools of medicine).

When I discussed the school's draft strategic plan with Scott, he asked about objectives and key results. And this time, he assigned another book on management and leadership for me to read. Done.

When we discussed our hospital affiliation agreements, he strongly encouraged ongoing discussions, viewing the university’s contribution as the hub supporting the spokes (the hospitals), and emphasized strategic visioning. 

Also done. And by following his counsel, we are generating great results with University Hospitals, brewing new ideas for priorities with Cleveland Clinic and plans with MetroHealth.

To help us get through COVID, we heard his stories from Katrina. He brought forward the words of my classmate, Ronnie Heifitz, (like Scott, another supreme management leader): "What is the view from the balcony?" and "What is winning?"

Scott gave the School of Medicine plenty of rope to develop new initiatives, coordinate new programs, make leaps and benefit from collaborations with all affiliates. He is anticipating the next steps in our efforts around diversity and inclusive excellence, bringing on a new chair of pharmacology, collaboratively launching the population and urban health initiative and expanding commercialization.

With Scott's guidance, our school has done quite well. He has reinforced and improved our initiatives—an impact we will appreciate for years to come.

So, as we welcome incoming president Eric Kaler, I (still serving as interim dean) foresee that the school will continue to do well. Scott has helped to put us on a solid trajectory.

Now, it’s on us to reach the summit.

Stan Gerson's signature



Stan Gerson
Interim Dean, School of Medicine
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, National Center for Regenerative Medicine