Mount Gambier residents Bob and Gayle Cowan have been awarded Fellows of the University of South Australia, acknowledging their outstanding contribution to the growth and development of UniSA.
The significant award was conferred by UniSA Chancellor Pauline Carr at the recent UniSA Mount Gambier Campus graduation ceremony.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said the Cowans were active members of the community and were closely associated with the UniSA Mount Gambier campus.
He said the couple were passionate advocates for students from rural and regional areas, who are often disadvantaged in accessing higher education and the career prospects this education affords.
“Giving access to education is in our DNA, people like the Cowans are our lifeblood,” Prof. Lloyd said.
The Cowans established the Cowan Grant in 2008, which supports initiatives that help financially disadvantaged students acquire a higher education.
Since then, more than $3.2m in Cowan Grants have been issued to help over 1500 students pursue and achieve their education goals.
The Cowans also have a long-standing and active involvement with the community in various other ways.
Mr Cowan worked in the South Australian forestry and timber industry for 35 years, spending much of his career in senior executive roles at the South Australia Woods and Forests Department, now known as ForestrySA.
“He is an expert in his field, adding to his Bachelor of Science (Forestry) with a Diploma of Forestry from the Australian Forestry School in Canberra and postgraduate studies in forestry at Oxford,” Prof. Lloyd said.
Mr Cowan has lectured in forestry technology at the South East Department of TAFE in South Australia and had been on several forestry industry management boards and committees, passing his knowledge and expertise on to others.
Prof. Lloyd said since the Cowan Grant was created as the sole recipient of the Cowan Family Trust in 2008, Ms Cowan had been “instrumental” in its successful investment approach.
He said she enabled the trust to expand its philanthropic offerings, particularly supporting students from rural and regional family backgrounds.
Ms Cowan devotes time as a volunteer to a number of city groups and has a passion for the arts, with several of the organisations she is committed to reflecting this passion.
“She has been a long-time supporter of the Riddoch Art Gallery and a generous supporter of groups within Mount Gambier,” Prof Lloyd said.
Prof. Lloyd said the contributions the couple have made to the wider community were best summarised by a scholarship recipient, who said their “generosity enabled countless students to pursue experiences they never otherwise would have been able to access”.