July 31, 2020
GAINESVILLE, Florida — A Bank of America executive with 30 years of experience at some of the nation’s most vaunted financial institutions has been named the University of Florida’s senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Chris Cowen, managing director and co-head of the higher education finance group with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in San Francisco, will be on campus in his new role at UF this fall.
As CFO, Cowen will develop, evaluate and communicate short- and long-term fiscal strategies that align established university goals. He will provide financial oversight and financial planning for this entirety of the university’s portfolio of operations, which includes the university’s 16 direct support organizations. Cowen also will serve as a member of the Board of Directors at UF Health.
“Chris’ background in higher education finance and his unique understanding of academia make him the ideal person to fill this role,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “As UF continues its upward trajectory toward top-five stature as a public research university, it is more critical than ever to have the steady hand of a seasoned professional with a full grasp of both the public and private sectors to help guide us.”
“I’m incredibly excited by this opportunity,” Cowen said. “I was very impressed with the commitment President Fuchs and UF leadership overall have demonstrated to seeing the University of Florida become a top-five institution, and I look forward to helping the university find new ways to provide access, affordability and delivery of the educational experience.”
Cowen has been in his current role at Bank of America since 2014. His responsibilities have included coordinating national coverage of high education and not-for-profit clients; developing and implementing strategy for significant growth in revenues and coverage for the group; providing recommendations regarding debt capacity and affordability, credit rating presentations, public/private partnerships and investor relations; and serving as a member of the firm’s LGBTQ Executive Council.
Prior to that, he spent four years as managing director and co-head of the higher education finance group for Goldman, Sachs & Co. From 1992 to 2010, he was managing director and head of the national higher education consulting practice for Prager, Sealy & Co., and from 1990 to 1992, he was a financial analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co.
Cowen also serves as a board member for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and chair of the University of Pennsylvania San Francisco Alumni Interview Committee.
Ten years ago, Cowen established the Christopher J. Cowen Endowed Scholarship for any student with a demonstrated financial need who attends any undergraduate school in Penn. Preference is given to students who self-identify as LGBTQ.
Cowen earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and – an MBA from this University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.