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Cowan Award: For University & Community Service


Sheila Tabaka is the 2023 Cowan Award Winner

Sheila Tabaka, Professor of Theatre, has been named the 2023 Cathy Cowan Award winner.


Cowan Award


Dr. Cathy Cowan served as Psychology professor at SMSU from 1989 until her untimely death in December 2001. During her time at SMSU, Cathy served as Chairperson of the Social Science Department, was active in SmSUFA (IFO Union), and was known across campus for her contract bridge skills. Cathy also served the community and was known for her theatrical flair, acting in several community theatre productions, hosting elegant holiday parties, and being active within her church family of Wesley United Methodist Church in Marshall. Cathy was known for her work ethic and “doing good for others”.


After the untimely death of Dr. Cathy Cowan, the SMSU community sought a way to honor Dr. Cowan’s outstanding service to the University and the region. The SMSU community realized that there was not an award specifically designed to recognize service accomplished by current faculty and staff. To that end, and at the suggestion of President David Danahar, the Cowan Award was created. The Award is presented at Mustang Ovations each spring to an individual of the SMSU community who represents the many special aspects of the late Dr. Cathy Cowan, by “doing good for others.”


The nomination form for the 2024 Cowan Award for University and Community Service is now open. Please note there are separate options for those using a Star ID (on-campus nominations) and for non-employees/off-campus people who would  like to submit a nomination.

If you use a Star ID, please use the on-campus form.

If you are a non-employee, please use the off-campus form.

Nominations for this award may come from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and members of the local or regional community. Nominees must be a current SMSU employee with a minimum of five years of service to SMSU. Current is defined as any employee on campus during the academic year of nomination. Self-nominations or anonymous nominations are not accepted. Previous nominees are eligible for re-nomination; however, previous recipients cannot be re-nominated.

FAQs and Tips for a Strong Nomination

Please watch this page for updates regarding the announcement of the 2024 Cowan Award for University and Community Service Recipient. 

Previous Award Recipients


Questions regarding nomination or the award process can be directed to:

Pat Brace, Cowan Award Committee Chair

Email: or

Phone: 507-537-7456

Last Modified: 2/12/24 4:04 PM | Website Feedback