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Class of 1965 alumnus pays it forward with new scholarship

June 09, 2015

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Class of 1965 graduate Dick Crowell (center) and his wife, Beck, donors of a new endowed scholarship, chat with Louis Fishman, also a 1965 alumnus, before the class was recognized during Tulane Law’s May 16 Diploma Ceremony.

The Class of 2015’s enthusiasm for leaving Tulane Law School a hefty gift for future scholarships wasn’t just contagious among this year’s graduates — it prompted like-minded generosity from 50-year alumnus Dick Crowell of Alexandria, Louisiana.

A devoted Tulane Law supporter who’s spent decades promoting civic improvement, from education to coastal restoration, Crowell has endowed a scholarship that will become available for a law student enrolling in fall 2016.

A $100,000 gift from Crowell and his wife, Beck, established the Richard B. Crowell Scholarship Fund with the goal of helping Louisiana residents who might not otherwise be able to afford Tulane. 

“I have to thank the Class of 2015 for reminding me this is a good time to give back,” Dick Crowell said.

In just a few months of legwork, with a core group of 21 students contacting their classmates, this year's graduating class generated more than $12,600 as a parting gift dedicated to financial aid, with participation among class members exceeding 60 percent. Members of the Dean’s Advisory Board added a match of more than $16,000. And 2015 graduates are continuing to add to their donation total.

Crowell called their effort “impressive” and said it “started my thought process” about extending an opportunity to students needing assistance.

Dean David Meyer said Crowell's gift would provide an important boost to efforts to ensure that Louisiana's most talented students continue to choose Tulane for law school. In the past five years, Tulane Law School has doubled the representation of Louisiana students in its entering classes, from 14 percent to 29 percent.

"We've reclaimed our position as the clear school of choice for the state's most able students," Meyer said. "And much of that progress is thanks to alumni who have provided dedicated scholarship assistance to keep Louisiana talent at home."

"I am  enormously grateful to Dick and Beck Crowell and to the Class of 2015 for helping to inspire a new spirit of giving back," Meyer said.

After graduating with an electrical engineering degree in 1962, Crowell enrolled at Tulane Law with a class that included now-Professor Vernon Palmer and New Orleans leaders such as King Milling, former longtime president of Whitney Bank who currently is leading a massive effort for Louisiana coastal protection and restoration, and attorney Louis Fishman, who helped found the Tulane Corporate Law Institute and teaches as an adjunct assistant law professor.

Crowell called it “a stimulating group” of 100 students. Class members were honored at the law school’s May 16 Diploma Ceremony, and 25 gathered over commencement weekend for reunion events.

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Dick Crowell (L ’65) retired from practicing law in Alexandria, Louisiana, but remains active in a variety of civic endeavors, including coastal restoration and protection. His book on Louisiana’s Chenier Plain is set for publication later this year.

Photo by Beck Crowell 

“I have enjoyed my relationship with the school over the last 50 years, and it has been gratifying to watch an important evolution take place,” Crowell said.

“This graduating class walks away not only with important skills for successful careers but a deep appreciation of the value of giving back to the law school and getting engaged in their communities,” he said. “Fifty years ago, this commitment was not emphasized. It makes for a unique educational experience and vibrant communities that are better able to attract business and industry.”

Crowell practiced law for more than 45 years in Alexandria, an area where his family has lived for five generations, and continues to be a civic leader. He served on multiple corporate boards, including for Hancock Holding Co., Whitney Holding Co. and CLECO Corp.; as president of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and Alexandria Country Day School; as vice president of the Rapides Parish School Board; as a board member for the Alexandria Museum of Art; and as a Nature Conservancy of Louisiana trustee.

He continues to chair the board of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, serves on the board of the Highland Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, is a trustee for the Kenya Wildlife Trust USA and is on the inaugural board of advisors for Audubon Louisiana, a conservation group working on Gulf Coast wildlife habitat improvement along with coastal restoration and protection.

He is finishing a book on the history of the southwest Louisiana region known as the Chenier Plain, with publication under the direction of the University Press of Mississippi scheduled for later this year.

Treb Winegar, the law school’s senior director of development, said the parallel gifts from graduates separated by 50 years “have shown how interconnected efforts by our alumni can be” in supporting the school they all value. “Thanks to Dick and other members of the Class of 1965, they already have exceeded what was raised in their last reunion year by 800 percent, and they’re still going.”


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