Pattie Cowell is actively enjoying retirement these days, but she is still remembered as an exemplary leader. She spent much of her career in the CSU English Department, joining the department as an adjunct faculty member in 1977. When she finished her PhD in 1978, she joined the department as tenure track faculty, specializing in American literature, especially early American literature. She was inspired to pursue a career in English because, “I thought, and still think, that education, and especially education in communication and the arts, is the way to open a productive and inclusive future, more just and more enriching for all of us. The variety of studies available in English Departments provides knowledge and skills related to all of these goals. And besides, I love to read.”
Cowell became the Department chair in 1991, retiring in 2001. During that time, she worked towards creating an inclusive culture within the English Department, as she internationalized the curriculum, hired more diverse faculty from a wide range of backgrounds, expanded the internship program, provided more consistent staffing for ethnic literature, women’s literature, and more interdisciplinary programs, and created outreach programs for everything from prisons to schools. Cowell spent her final years at CSU as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts.
During her time as a faculty member of the English department, she saw the department shift from being a literature- and writing-focused department to including everything from women’s studies to education. Even before becoming the chair, she worked to promote these changes by participating in curriculum development as a teacher and expanding the variety of graduate offerings as the graduate coordinator. In all, she was with CSU for twenty-four years. She contributed much during that time and is greatly missed by many in the halls of Eddy.