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Michigan State University

Randolph Cowen, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient


Randolph Cowen, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient


B.A. College of Social Science, College of Arts & Letters and Honors College, 1974

Distinguished Alumni Award: Presented to alumni who have differentiated themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishment in their field.

He is an outstanding entrepreneur, a longtime supporter of MSU and a Spartan.

Randolph (Randy) Cowen received his bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in Mathematics, from MSU in 1974, where he was a member of the Honors College. During his 26-year career at Goldman Sachs, he held the position of chief information officer from 2001-2007 and co-chief administrative officer from 2007-2008.

Cowen went on to share his expertise by serving on a number of for-profit and nonprofit boards in both Michigan and New York City, including the Board of Directors of EMC Corporation until it was acquired by Dell for $67 billion. He has also been active on the boards of Pivotal Software, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, the Child Mind Institute, Solace and GTY Holdings.

Currently, Cowen is chair of the MSU Research Foundation Board, where he has served since 2013. He demonstrates a continued commitment to MSU by investing in the Physics and Astronomy Department through endowments. The Jerry Cowen Endowed Chair in Experimental Physics honors the memory of Cowen's father, Professor Jerry Cowen, who was a distinguished researcher in the MSU Physics and Astronomy Department for more than five decades.  A natural-born leader himself, Randy Cowen has used his achievements to help rising leaders at MSU transform research in emerging industries. His guidance in entrepreneurship and corporate engagement, paired with his personal philanthropy, have made an invaluable impact on the MSU community.  

“As far as in my career, I think the most important thing was to take smart risks. I decided to take the risk... to join the small team that was going to chart the future and became one of the leaders of making that future happen.”

Who will chart the future? Spartans Will.