William “Al” Allen Cowan, professor emeritus and former head of the animal science department in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, died April 4. He was 88.
Cowan, of Storrs, joined the UConn faculty in 1952 and retired in 1985. He worked with livestock production and breeding.
Cowan earned his bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from the University of Massachusetts in 1942. He joined the faculty there after serving in the U.S. Navy. He earned his master’s degree in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1952 from the University of Minnesota.
After retirement, he continued to work in an advisory capacity. He was the author or co-author of more than 164 publications and reports in scientific journals, popular journals and briefs.
Cameron Faustman, associate dean of academic programs in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says Cowan was a “tremendous supporter of undergraduate education and Connecticut agriculture. He touched the lives of many, many students, and believed very much in the concept of experiential learning.”
Faustman adds, “His dedication to his department, college, and university were remarkable and continued long after he retired. He will be missed.”
Ian Hart, associate dean for research and advanced studies in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, says Cowan was “incredibly helpful” to him when he became head of the animal science department. “He was like a mentor and I enjoyed his company,” says Hart.
Cowan was a member of the American Society of Animal Science and was awarded its most prestigious Honorary Fellow Award in 1984.
He was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture as director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. He also served on the Connecticut Governor’s Council for the Development of Agricultural Industry.
A strong supporter of the Working Lands Alliance for the protection of Connecticut’s farmland, he was also director of the Connecticut Agricultural Education Foundation, which seeks and administers funds for the benefit of programs that promote Connecticut agriculture through education.
Cowan was predeceased by his wife Ila Fae Hutson Cowan. He is survived by his son Robert and his daughter Carol.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Cowan’s memory to the William Allen Cowan Agriculture Education Fund, c/o New Alliance Bank, 596 Middle Turnpike, Storrs, CT 06268.