The Jane Cowley Memorial Endowment honors the late Lou “Jane” Cowley, a respected A&M-Commerce alumna and committed educator. Ms. Cowley’s husband, alumnus Jessie “Harold” Cowley of Sulphur Springs, Texas, established the endowment to recognize and memorialize Jane’s impactful 35-year career in education.
The endowment was initially established in 2008 to provide scholarships to secondary business education majors, but this year the endowment was re-directed to offer an annual scholarship to an individual who is seeking a graduate degree in Educational Technology Library Science (ETLS) and plans to work or teach in a local school district.
Dr. Juan Araujo, assistant dean for the College of Education and Human Services at A&M-Commerce, expressed appreciation for the Cowley endowment and emphasized the importance of well-prepared school librarians.
“Skilled librarians can positively affect students’ reading and writing mastery as well as math scores on standardized tests,” Araujo said. “We are deeply honored to receive this generous gift from the Cowley family and know that these funds will facilitate the education of future librarians who will improve the quality of education for children in East Texas.”
The Cowley family’s Lion legacy began in the 1950s when Harold and Jane met on a blind date while attending East Texas State Teachers College (now A&M-Commerce). The two shared similar backgrounds: both were from rural Texas farming families, and both were first-generation college students.
Jane was a well-rounded student who actively participated in several extra-curricular activities. She was a member of Alpha Chi, Kappa Delta Pi and Student Christian Fellowship. She also worked for the Lion Athletics department during the legendary tenure of Coach M.A. “Catfish” Smith, who led his football team to a 30-2-1 record.
Jane’s role as a secretary in the Lion athletic department was to submit press releases to the news wire after each football game, announcing the final score. When she was working, Jane received special permission to stay out after curfew, and Harold would walk her safely back to her dormitory in Binnion Hall.
Harold was also involved in extra-curricular activities, including a short stint in the university’s Rodeo Club, where he competed in bareback bronc riding. Unfortunately, a fall from a bucking bronc ended his rodeo career before it got off the ground!
The couple graduated from East Texas State Teachers College in 1954. Harold obtained a degree in agriculture education, and Jane graduated with a degree in business education. They married on September 3, 1954. Harrold was 19, and Jane was 20.
After graduation, Jane taught high school business education classes for several years. She returned to Commerce in 1968 to obtain a master’s degree in library science and dedicated several years to her work as a high school librarian and library consultant for Region VIII Education Service Center.
During her 35 years in education, Jane worked at several school districts across Texas, including Harrold, Valley View, Iowa Park and Talco-Bogata. As in her college days, Ms. Cowley went above and beyond in her career. In addition to teaching, she served in many extra-curricular advising, coaching and sponsorship roles for the benefit of her students. She was deservingly named business teacher of the year for Region IX in 1981.
The Cowley family’s Lion legacy continued with their only child, Dr. James Cowley. Dr. Cowley also graduated from A&M-Commerce with Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees. He has remained an active alumnus, serving many years on the Alumni Board and earning the Gold Blazer Award for service in 2014.
Several other Cowley family members also graduated from A&M-Commerce, including Dr. James Cowley’s wife, Carol Elaine Cowley, as well as an aunt and an uncle. In fact, the Cowley family’s collection of six class rings were impressively featured in the Alumni Gala Program in 2014, showcasing the family’s Lion pride and dedication.
Dr. Kimberly McLeod, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, expressed appreciation on the university’s behalf for the Cowley family’s contributions to A&M-Commerce.
“What a privilege it is for Texas A&M University-Commerce to honor the Cowley family, and in particular, Jane Cowley, for her life of leadership and legacy,” McLeod said. “The scholarship endowment for future students seeking a Master of Library Science will continue to add value to our public schools and future Jane Cowley Scholarship recipients. This scholarship and family legacy will live on and multiply indefinitely in the lives of learners,” she said.
Learn more about the scholarship on the Jane Cowley Memorial Endowment page.
For information about establishing an endowment at A&M-Commerce, contact [email protected] or 903.468.8187.
Photo: Left to right: J. Harold Cowley (1954 AGED), Carol Cowley (1985 MATH/PE, 1991 GUID), Dr. James Cowley (1987 AGEC/AGED, 1990 EDAD/ESCI, 2003 EDAD)