ATHENS — Ohio University alumna Margaux Cowden returned to her alma mater to start her job as the new director of the Manasseh Cutler Scholars program, Ohio University’s premier scholarship program.
“I’m really invested in student success and student mentoring. That produced a desire to be more involved in administration,” explained Cowden, who earned her doctoral degree in comparative literature. “If I really wanted to affect the educational outcomes for students, I needed to start playing a bigger role in shaping the larger institution. Here was a job offering me the opportunity to shape the student educational experience and to do that at a university I already love and in a town I already love.”
Now in its 20th year, the Cutler Scholars program recruits high school seniors and selects its students based on their intellectual curiosity, leadership, service and character. The program is designed to reinforce a leadership philosophy emphasizing civic responsibility.
During the four-year scholarship program, Cutler Scholars live together, participate in a weekly colloquium and take part in four enrichment experiences. The enrichment experiences are comprised of outdoor leadership, public service, international travel and internships. In addition, students receive a significant scholarship and a stipend for enrichment experiences.
“As a scholars program, the Cutler Scholars program is distinct from honors programs,” explained Cowden. “While honors programs are focused on academic success and research, scholars programs tend to emphasize learning outside of a traditional academic context. This is why the Cutler Scholars program has enrichment experiences, where students pursue their academic work while performing service.”
Cowden is replacing long-time program director Dr. Herman “Butch” Hill, who recently retired after many years of service to Ohio University. Her first day was Aug. 1.
As the director of the Cutler Scholars program, Cowden will work with her team to grow the program, which has already nearly doubled in the last two years, develop strategies for finding bright, service-minded and curious students to become scholars, and build new relationships with organizations, university departments, and area school districts.
“I am delighted that Dr. Cowden has joined us as the new director for the Cutler Scholars program,” said Jeremy W. Webster, dean of the Honors Tutorial College. “She brings a student-centered approach to the position that will make this already strong program even more enriching for our students. She will challenge them intellectually as well as inspire them personally. Her vision and passion for this program stood out in her application and interviews, and, as an alumna of Ohio University and the Honors Tutorial College, she is uniquely qualified to strengthen the Cutler Scholars program’s still relatively new relationship with the college.”
Before returning to Ohio, Cowden was an assistant professor of gender, LGBT, and women’s studies at Williams College in Massachusetts and an assistant professor of women’s and American studies at Temple University in Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous articles for academic journals, including the Encyclopedia of the American Counterculture and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature & Environment. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature & Environment.
Cowden graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in 2001. She earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate degree in comparative literature from the University of California-Irvine.