Retiring regent Jeff Cowan honored at NOC Board meeting
Beverly Bryant - June 20, 2019 2:43 pm
Retiring Northern Oklahoma College regent Jeff Cowan, center, was honored for eight years of service to NOC at Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting in Tonkawa. Pictured from left are Regent chairman Chad Dillingham, Cowan, and NOC President Dr. Cheryl Evans. (Photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College)
TONKAWA — Outgoing Northern Oklahoma College Regent Jeff Cowan of Ponca City was honored in his final meeting Wednesday afternoon in Tonkawa. A proclamation was read in his honor celebrating eight years of service to NOC.
NOC President Dr. Cheryl Evans thanked Cowan for his service.
“Jeff Cowan was an asset to the Board of Regents and to the College for eight years,” she said. “His insight and input made a difference for our students. We will miss working with him, but know that he will always be a part of the Northern family.”
Before his final meeting, Cowan shared his thoughts on his tenure.
“I was appointed by then-Gov. Fallin to serve the remaining 3-year term of former regent, Jeff Smith, in July 2011,” Cowan said. “I was re-appointed for a full 5-year term in 2104.”
Cowan has seen many changes at NOC in his eight years.
“Over the course of eight years, you would expect some turnover in personnel, and obviously there has been, but overall NOC has done a very good job of retaining quality people,” he said. “There have been changes in the Regents’ Board with the departure of long-time Regents Linda Brown, Keith James and Lynn Smith over the last few years.
“Most of the changes that I have seen really relate more to finances. Budget constraints impact many decisions and do force unexpected changes within an organization. The mark of good leadership is not how well one performs during the prosperous times, but rather how well your management team handles the tough times and tough decisions. Dr. Evans and her management team have done an exceptional job over the course of two to three very difficult years,” Cowan said
Cowan spoke of the challenges facing higher education.
“Maintaining strong enrollment numbers is obviously an important part of the college’s success,” he said. “And the numbers will rise and fall over the passage of time as a result of a lot of outside influences, i.e, the economy, competition, high school graduation rates, etc. NOC has done a really good job of understanding the need to retain its students.
“But really, the biggest challenge facing higher education in Oklahoma will continue to be funding, or the lack thereof, and the task of continuing to manage tight budgets. Some progress was made this coming fiscal year and we are hopeful our new governor will continue to support higher education with increased State appropriations,” he said.
What will Cowan remember from his service at NOC?
“I will always remember the friendships that I have made and the people that I have met over the course of the last eight years,” he said. “And certainly, my conscientiousness has been expanded with respect to higher education. For both of these things, I am extremely grateful.”
What does Cowan predict for NOC’s future.
“NOC has had a strong history of conservative values and prudent fiscal responsibility,” he said. “That being said, the focus has always been on education. Serving more students and impacting lives is the ultimate motive in the world of higher education. NOC has done that and has delivered a quality product at tuition rates that remain very affordable. I wish the best for NOC in the coming years.”