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Carl Cowan Scholarship

The Carl Cowan Scholarship Fund was made possible through initial donations and contributions from individuals and businesses after Black students and faculty members in the early 1970s sought to identify additional funding sources for Black students. The endowment was originally named the Minority Scholarship and Assistance Fund. In 1983, the name of the endowment was changed to the Carl Cowan Scholarship Endowment Fund and is open to all students.

Carl Cowan was born in Knoxville in 1902, attended Knoxville College, and received a law degree from Howard University College of Law. Mr. Cowan practiced law in Knox County from 1934 until 1980 and was appointed as the first African American assistant district attorney in Knox County in 1953.


Two scholarships of $1,000 will be awarded for the 2024–25 academic year. The funds will be dispersed in increments of $500, to be awarded at the beginning of the fall and spring terms to each recipient.


The selection of the recipients of the Carl Cowan Scholarship Fund will be made by the Carl Cowan Selection Committee, with representation from the chair of the Commission for Blacks, the director of Multicultural Student Life, and the  Africana Studies department head, or their delegates.

Selection Criteria

  1. The Scholarship is available to any full-time student, either undergraduate or graduate, who demonstrates financial need and/or outstanding achievement and involvement.
  2. Applicants must complete and submit the application in its entirety. A resume must also be uploaded in addition to the application. One additional page may be included to detail information requested in the application if necessary. A personal bio is required, and applicants agree to have their bio and photo published on the MSL website and press releases.
  3. Applicants agree that their financial needs will be determined by the Office of Financial Aid and included with the information to be considered by the selection committee.
  4. Applicants must submit one letter of support on letterhead from a faculty or staff member outlining the student’s academic achievements and contributions to the University of Tennessee community.
  5. The scholarship is intended to be a one-year scholarship.
  6. All recipient(s) will forfeit their scholarship if they do not remain eligible to study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus or upon transferring to a campus other than the University of Tennessee, Knoxville at the beginning of each semester the scholarship is to be awarded. The selection committee may then re-award the remaining funds or return them to the scholarship fund for the following academic year.


All application materials are due to the Office of Multicultural Student Life electronically, in PDF format, by 4:30 pm on Friday, March 1, 2024.

Support the Carl Cowan Scholarship

Donate to the Carl Cowan Scholarship Fund.