Phyllis & Bob Cowan
In 1999, Phyllis and Bob Cowan announced a gift to the Midland College Foundation to endow a performing arts series that would bring at leats two of the finest available professional performing arts events to Midland College each year.
In establishing the Phyllis and Bob Cowan Performing Arts Series, the Cowans acknowledged "we wanted further to support Midland's performing arts in a significant way. Midland has been very good to us, and we wanted to do something meaningful for the community in return." The success of the college's Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings nationally known speakers to Midland College twice a year, helped the Cowans decide to endow the performing arts series. "The Midland College Foundation has done such a grand job with the Davidson Series, and we felt this would be money well spent," she added. "We acknowledge that we are stewards of God's property, and it is only by His blessing that these funds are available to make this gift," Mr. Cowan said.
Dr. David Daniel, Midland College President at the time, said: "This is one of the most important gifts Midland College has received. It broadens opportunities of the Midland College constituency for exposure to the professional performing arts in perpetuity. Hence, quality performances will be brought to our community for generations to come. I know of no other community college with the financial capability of staging both professional performing arts and lecture events quarter-annually as Midland College can now do."
"The Phyllis & Bob Cowan Performing Arts Series is not only a generous gift to the Midland College Foundation but to the entire community as well," Eileen Piwetz, executive director of the Midland College Foundation, said. "This series will provide a variety of opportunities to delight all Midlanders and create hunger for not only these performances but for the excellent performing arts activities we already enjoy in our city."
The Cowans echoed this thought, saying, "...we feel the performing arts series will augment and enhance the rich tradition of excellence in the Midland performing arts community and pique interest in the existing performing arts organizations in Midland. We want this to be the icing on the cake." Midland College Foundation Board President Joseph I. O'Neill III also praised the gift, "This gift will benefit Midland and Midlanders as long as there is a Midland. Complementing the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series, this gift will provide Midland College four opportunities a year to enrich the citizens of the Permian Basin. I join all of Midland in thanking Bob and Phyllis for their most generous gift. While Bob and Phyllis acknowledge they were only stewards of the property belonging to God, this gift to Midland allows us all to share in their bountiful stewardship."
The couple moved to Midland in 1956 when Mr. Cowan became associated with the law firm of Stubbeman, McRae, Sealy, Laughlin and Browder, Inc. He retired from the firm in 1986. Mr. Cowan served for several years on the board of directors of the Midland Symphony and Chorale, and it was during his term as president that the Midland/Odessa Symphony Association was formed to enhance the spirit of cooperation between symphony and chorale constituencies of the two cities. Mr. Cowan was an original incorporator and director of Midland Presbyterian Homes, the parent corporation of Trinity Towers and Manor Park. He also was a member of the Midland Jaycees and served as a volunteer on several other non-profit local endeavors including the Summer Mummers and Septemberfest.
Mrs. Cowan "was the genesis of the idea" for endowing the performing arts series, Mr. Cowan said. She was an early member of the Symphony Guild in which she was an active fund raiser for the Symphony and Chorale. She also chaired the National Young Artists Competition and had been a member and volunteer of the Museum of the Southwest.