Dr. Earl Cowan
Dr. Earl Cowan was born in his grandparents' home on the gin lot in Maysville, Okla. While he was growing up in south Oklahoma City, his favorite classes in junior high and high school were industrial arts and drafting. In college he majored in industrial arts education, earning bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Central Oklahoma. He completed additional graduate work at Central Michigan University and the University of Oklahoma before completing his doctorate in occupational and adult education at Oklahoma State University. Cowan also served in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.
In 1962, Cowan began teaching metalworking at Classen High School. Five years later, he received a grant to attend a National Defense Education Institute at Central Michigan University, where he wrote “A Study of the Ferrous (Iron) Industry” after studying and touring manufacturing plants throughout Michigan. In 1972, after he had established a successful welding program at Canadian Valley Technology Center, he revised welding curriculum for the Oklahoma Department of Vo-Tech Education. Several years later, Canadian Valley named him adult education coordinator and then promoted him to assistant superintendent for adult and industry training. After completing his doctorate in 1984, Cowan was named superintendent at Canadian Valley. During the next 24 years, Cowan supervised construction of new health care centers at the El Reno and Chickasha campuses as well as major expansions to both and a joint purchase of land with the Mustang school district for a new campus between Yukon and Mustang, which is named in his honor.
Cowan spent 46 years in education, with 38 of them at Canadian Valley. He was a member of the first Administrators’ Development Program, president of the CareerTech Superintendents’ Association and a board member for the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators and the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools. In recognition of his contributions to vocational education, he received CareerTech’s Francis Tuttle Career Excellence Award and the Clyde Knight Trade and Industrial Education Award.
His leadership made a difference in many civic organizations. He served on the boards of Mustang Economic Development Foundation and Integris Canadian Valley Hospital as well as the Community Relations Board of the Federal Corrections Institute in El Reno. He is past president of Historic Fort Reno and a member of the board. He is also on the board of the Canadian Valley Technology Center Foundation.
Cowan and his wife, Nancy, have been married 52 years and have two children, Cheryl Kerbo and David Cowan, and five granddaughters. Cowan’s hobbies in retirement include hunting, fishing, building street rods, going to car shows and keeping his classic 1940 Mercury coupe in top condition.
Cowan was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2011.